We’ve announced our support for a homeless charity’s new helpline for the young and homeless.

The Young and Homeless helpline, by Centrepoint, will be provided by BT for free for its first three years.

Our generosity means that even more of the funds raised by Centrepont can now be directed to helping run the service, and to funding the support programmes needed by the young people who turn to it for help.

Our support includes a specially created freephone number which can be accessed by vulnerable young people at no cost.

[Read more: How a banker's son ended up homeless]

"BT understands the power of information," said Niall Dunne, BT’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

"That is why we are delighted to be supporting this appeal by providing Centrepoint with its new helpline for the first three years.

"The helpline will help ensure young people at risk receive the information they need when they need it - and stop them ending up sleeping on the streets.

"BT is proud of the work it does to help those in need and is delighted to be supporting this project this Christmas."

We will also help spread awareness of the helpline through the web and other outlets.

It is part of our commitment to help improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world and we hope to raise £1 billion for good causes by 2020.

Our backing was celebrated by Centrepoint, which is behind the new Young and Homeless Helpline, as a massive step towards turning the project into a reality.

"This means we now have the cost-effective infrastructure and expertise we need to make the Centrepoint Helpline a reality," said Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint.

At present, some 150,000 young people approach their councils each year because they are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Many are turned away with little or no support, or have no idea where they can go.

The helpline will be the first national service to give them the assistance they need with trained operators helping provide the support they so urgently need.

A pilot programme is now in operation in London to test out the equipment behind it ahead of the national launch, scheduled for February 13, 2017. 

Google.org has been working with the Centrepoint to produce the database of contacts which will help fuel it.

Mr Obakin, Centrepoint's head, said that although out support was a massive step, more was needed if the February 13 launch date was to be met.

"BT has joined the legion of Evening Standard readers who have already come out and given to the campaign and refused to stand by as the cold winter closes around those homeless young people in dire need of our help," he said.

“But we cannot congratulate ourselves yet. We remain a long way from our goal of raising the money that will enable us to provide a vital service for young people who are facing or experiencing homelessness.

"But we can - and I know that together we will get there.”

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