Luke Martin ‘gives back’ to help end youth homelessness

Senior Project Manager at Socius, Luke Martin joined Socius two and a half years ago, bringing with him a personal pledge to help make a difference and support the lives of young people in his hometown of Bristol, who are facing hardship and homelessness.

Set up specifically to deliver impact, Socius is always happy to help further any voluntary work and fundraising efforts that the team delivers, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for homelessness charities, LandAid and 1625 Independent People (1625ip), a local charity based in Old Market. Luke explains how he uses his ‘give back days’, as well as additional pro-bono support and fundraising through Socius to help make a difference to vulnerable young people in Bristol.

'Growing up in a military family has given me a unique perspective on social equality and community support. As my father served in the Royal Air Force, we moved every few years, living in various parts of the world but always within the embrace of military bases. These bases, though situated far from the UK, felt like a slice of home. On the base, everyone had access to education, leisure facilities, jobs, and most importantly, a sense of belonging. It was a place where social inequality was notably absent.

Regular visits to my hometown of Bristol shattered the illusion of an equal society though, where I encountered the harsh reality of homelessness. Walking through Broadmead, and the Bearpit underpass, I saw young people huddled in blankets on the cold ground. My dad's gesture of giving me change to pass to them introduced me to the concept of homelessness, but I couldn't understand how they found themselves there.

My father explained that these young people were in need, though I struggled to comprehend the depth of their struggles beyond the presumption of poor choices and substance abuse. It was only later, in the early days of my career, that I began to truly grasp the magnitude of the issue and the reasons young people find themselves homeless.

My journey into the realm of social responsibility began in 2019 when I joined JLL and became involved with LandAid, an organisation focused on addressing youth homelessness. We partnered with local charities that aimed not just to provide shelter for young people but also to equip them with vital life skills, training, and employment opportunities. That initial introduction made a big impact on me and four years later I am now a board member for LandAid in the South West.

Did you know that in 2022 alone, around 129,000 young people approached their local authorities seeking assistance due to homelessness? It's important to understand that homelessness extends beyond sleeping rough; it involves lacking a secure, decent, and affordable place to call home. Many young people who experience homelessness are trapped in a cycle of moving between unstable accommodations, uncertain of where they'll spend the night.

Family breakdown stands as the leading cause of youth homelessness, driving almost half of cases. Factors such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and social backgrounds can also increase vulnerability to homelessness. Tragically, once people fall into homelessness, these challenges often intensify, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of hardship.

Organisations like 1625ip are here to help, with a mission to prevent homelessness, provide safety, and empower young people. 1625ip serves as a vital support network for over 1500 youths annually and for nearly four decades, they've offered refuge and guidance to some of the region's most vulnerable young people – those leaving care, homeless, seeking asylum, and facing violence or offending.

Since joining Socius, I've continued my mission to combat youth homelessness. Partnering closely with 1625ip, we're working towards their vision of a world where every young person has a safe haven and access to opportunities. By securing funding for new accommodation and the refurbishment of existing facilities, 1625ip strives to create an environment where young people can thrive and build a better future.

Through Socius pro-bono support, I've been helping to refurbish their HQ, which is just around the corner from our Soapworks site, upgrading emergency accommodation, offices and meeting space. It feels good to be able to use the resources that I have at my disposal and I feel like I’m in quite a privileged position to do that.

The rest of the team has got behind these charities too, including Liam, who took part in 1625ip’s ‘Sleep Out to Help Out’ event earlier this year, plus support that Socius has given to LandAid South West for its inaugural Summer Party.

I like making a difference, and the notion that at the end of all of this, when I’m old and sat in my chair, that I’ll have actually done something meaningful! That’s not just building really cool places, but helping people and organisations, like 1625ip and LandAid, to provide support for young people through housing, skills, confidence building, education, training, jobs and fun.

Find out more about how Socius is delivering impact here