A generation betrayed: Shocking figures on youth homelessness

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Dec 1 19:44:49 GMT 2014

Cameron increases UK destitution by 700% | Ally Fogg
Poverty is at its most deadly when it becomes normal
Shocking evidence of the effects of austerity in 
Britain is being met with a silence that suggests a dangerous indifference
When is poverty at its most dangerous? It is not, 
as you might think, when we begin to notice the 
frequency with which we step over rough sleepers 
on our way to the shops. It is not when we hear 
of children going to school hungry. It is not 
even when people begin to die from hunger, from 
cold or in desperation, at their own hands.
On the contrary, poverty is at its most deadly 
when we no longer notice, we no longer care, we 
no longer even question it. This is the point at 
which poverty ceases to be a temporary crisis, a 
challenge to overcome or a tragedy to be mourned, 
and becomes a permanent state of affairs, 
embedded into the very systems and structures of 
our society, not an obscenity, but normality. It 
is a grim hypothesis, but I would suggest this is 
a point we have already passed.
Allow me to summarise a few of the stories that 
have passed under the radar in the UK over the 
past week or so. In Nottingham, a food bank has 
closed its doors – not through lack of demand, 
but because it alleges that the city council was 
referring desperate and vulnerable people to its 
service as a first port of call, thereby allowing 
the council to deny residents statutory hardship 
payments and other services. The news came a few 
days after a report into food banks was published 
by a consortium of charities, including Child 
Poverty Action Group, Trussell Trust and Oxfam, 
which found that the number of people accessing 
three days’ worth of emergency provisions had 
risen from 128,000 in 2011-12 to 913,000 in 2013-14.............

A missed opportunity to prevent youth homelessness

Holland - Wednesday, 19 November 2014 - 12:00am

Homeless Link calls for more action to address 
the high number of under 25s becoming homeless.

Research published today by Homeless Link shows:
    * 52% of those seeking help with homelessness are under 25.
    * Councils are preventing homelessness 
amongst young people in just 19% of cases.
    * Half of those living in homelessness 
services are under 25, at an average cost of at least £3,876 per case.

Young and Homeless 2014 shows that more than half 
of those who approached councils and charity 
services for help in August 2014 were under 25. 
This suggests the scale of youth homelessness is 
higher than reflected in official figures:
    * Government figures record formal 
applications to councils. Homeless Link’s 
research takes into account those going directly 
to councils and homelessness services for help.

Experience of homelessness at a young age is 
proven to increase the risk of becoming homeless 
again and developing complex problems in later 
life. The report suggests work to prevent young 
people losing their home is simply not good enough in many areas:
    * The range of prevention methods used by 
some local authorities has improved. For example, 
92% now carry out home visits which can help 
identify risks at an earlier stage.
    * However, 40% of councils believe they do 
not have the tools they need to prevent youth 
homelessness, and homelessness was not prevented 
by councils in 8 in 10 cases where young people approached them for help.

6 in 10 young people become homeless due to 
family or friends no longer being able 
accommodate them, with relationship breakdown the 
most common cause. Family mediation can be 
effective in supporting young people to stay at 
home, yet nearly a quarter of councils still do not offer this service.

Remaining at home is not suitable for some young 
people, such as those at risk of abuse or 
violence, and the report also highlights the need 
for alternative housing options for this group, 
such as nightstops or emergency supported 
accommodation. The research suggests a shortage 
of suitable accommodation is forcing local 
authorities to use other, unsuitable options with 
94% saying they have placed young people in bed & breakfasts.

The report calls for mediation, advice and 
support services to be available in every local 
authority area to families and young people at 
risk of homelessness. Schools and other agencies 
working with young people should also play a part 
in preventing homelessness through education, as 
well as early identification and appropriate referral of those at risk.

Commenting on the report, 
Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said:

“This report shows that far too many young people 
are being affected by homelessness and that 
councils and charities across England are 
struggling to respond. We know that a focus on 
prevention works, yet many areas are missing an 
opportunity to tackle the issue before it develops.

“Too many young people are being denied the 
opportunities to realise their potential that 
most take for granted. We know that local 
authorities are under incredible financial 
pressure, but intervening early saves lives and 
money. We’re calling on all local areas to ensure 
young people and families are given the support 
they need to prevent homelessness and the 
development of issues that can be difficult to overcome.”

Other issues of concern highlighted by the research:
    * Welfare reform leading to more 
homelessness: The survey of over 200 charity and 
council homeless agencies has uncovered signs 
that the increased use of benefit sanctions could 
be adding to homeless numbers. Charities report 
that homelessness caused by financial problems 
due to benefit reductions has increased six fold 
(from 1.7% of cases in 2013 to 10% in 2014). Over 
90% of providers report that benefit sanctions 
have affected the ability of young people to access accommodation.
    * Young people facing more complex problems: 
58% of under 25s seeking help from councils and 
charities with homelessness have one or more 
other problem such as mental health, learning 
disability, substance misuse or offending 
behaviour. Half of agencies believe problems 
faced by young people have got worse. The range 
of complex problems faced by young people 
underline the need for effective support to help 
them leave homelessness behind. Nearly six in 10 
(57%) of those seeking help are not in education, 
employment or training.  Around a quarter report 
mental health or substance misuse problems. 13% 
of those seeking help were young offenders and 11% were care leavers.
    * More young people sleeping rough: Charities 
report that 19% of young people have ever slept 
rough before they found support and that this 
issue has increased in the last year. There are 
also signs that some young people are sleeping 
rough for longer. Homeless Link believes that a 
lack of suitable emergency accommodation may be 
contributing to the issue.  Over half of councils 
do not have youth specific accommodation, such as 
night stops or crash pads. Only 6% of councils 
reported never using inappropriate Bed and 
Breakfast accommodation to house young people.
    * More people needing help than getting it: 
More homeless charities report increasing the 
support they provide to young people. Despite 
this 74% of charities report having to turn young 
people away. The most common reasons were either 
because the individual’s needs were too high or 
because the service did not have enough capacity 
to help. With signs that the overall needs of the 
homeless population are becoming more complex, 
these findings underline the need to sustain investment in services.

The National Youth Reference Group – made up of 
young people with experience of homelessness – 
has worked with Homeless Link to develop a number 
of recommendations for how the support available 
to young people at risk of homelessness can be improved, including:
    * A positive pathway model to be implemented 
in all areas, with clear protocols for integrated working.
    * Schools and other types of youth provision 
to increase education on homelessness, focusing 
on the realities and how to find support.
    * Investment in timeout projects and suitable 
emergency accommodation to allow young people and 
their parents respite before relationships reach crisis point.
    * An improvement in the benefit sanctions 
process and consideration given to the impact any 
future welfare reforms will have on homeless young people.
    * The expertise of young people who have 
experienced homelessness to be utilised wherever 
possible; e.g. within mediation services, as part 
of peer mentoring schemes, and through paid and 
voluntary work within the sector.
    * Government to support local authorities to 
improve data recording and monitoring in order to 
help ascertain the scale of youth homelessness, 
monitor trends and observe the impact of prevention work.

Young and homeless 2014


Our third annual Young & Homeless report explores 
the reasons young people become homeless, the 
support available to them, and areas that need to be improved.


Young and Homeless Executive Summary.pdf | 952K
- Young and Homeless - Full Report.pdf | 11410K
- See more at: 

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