Hollyoaks is to tackle homelessness in a new storyline focusing on teenager Peri Lomax’s experiences of living on the streets, with a special standalone episode airing next week.
Peri ran away from the village in February after her fake pregnancy by Prince McQueen was exposed. Shunned by her friends and family who were disgusted at her deceitful behaviour, the schoolgirl had nowhere left to turn and was forced into a life on the streets.
Her mum Leela has been on a desperate search for her missing daughter, and next week a homeless girl called Harley turns up claiming to know Peri’s whereabouts.
A special flashback episode showing on E4 on Wednesday 18 April follows Peri’s 71 days of living rough, detailing how she met Harley and exploring the vulnerabilities of homelessness.
Hollyoaks has worked with homeless charities Centrepoint and the Whitechapel Centre in their research, and aims to highlight the 73% increase in people sleeping rough in England over the past three years, which amounts to more than 4,500 people being homeless on any given night in 2017.
Ruby O’Donnell, the award-winning actress who plays Peri, spoke of the challenges of portraying her character’s plight: “I’ve been so lucky to be trusted with this important storyline,” she says. “We were very fortunate to be able to work with the Whitechapel Centre and meet people who have real-life experiences of homelessness.
“It can happen to anyone and I hope by telling Peri’s story we can continue to raise awareness about the issue.”
Centrepoint has a freephone helpline for young people between 16-25 worried about homelessness, which provides support over the phone, on live chat and via email. The number is 0808 800 0661 and lines are open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. https://centrepoint.org.uk/youth-homelessness/get-help-now/
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Hollyoaks below.
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