A HAMPSHIRE charity which supports young people facing hard times and homelessness has launched a Christmas appeal to help those in need of the festive period and beyond.

Step by Step has launched its annual Open Doors appeal, asking for donations from the public to help fund its essential services, not just over the Christmas time but throughout the year.

Every year in the UK, thousands of young people find themselves homeless, often through family breakdown, escaping abuse or leaving care with nowhere else to go.

Christmas is an especially tough time for a young person to be homeless, with reminders everywhere of the families and celebrations they can’t be a part of.

The Hampshire-based charity supports young people aged 11 to 25, offering accommodation, mental health support, and wellbeing services to those most in need.

Debbie Moreton, Step by Step chief executive, said: “Our Open Doors appeal makes a genuine difference to some of the most vulnerable young people in our community. It’s truly touching to see these young people enjoying themselves at Christmas, especially knowing what the alternative might have been.”

One person who has been help by Step by Step is 19-year-old Stevie.

Stevie became homeless after fleeing emotional abuse. Step by Step was able to offer her a stable, caring home, and a Christmas without the usual conflict and fear.

She said: “My first Christmas at Step by Step, I just sat there and soaked in the atmosphere. I couldn’t believe this was my life now.”

To donate to the Open Doors appeal, visit stepbystep.org.uk/opendoors.