There are approximately 100,000 young people nationally living on the streets according to recent research, and there may be many more that fall under the radar because they reach eighteen and they ‘sofa surf’. A recent documentary for Children in Need, ‘The Young and Homeless,’ highlighted the growing problem for children across the country as young as fourteen.
Home is a place that provides security, privacy, links to a community and a support network. Without these, young people can become subject to abuse, crime, poor health, drugs misuse, isolation and mental illness. These make the chances of a successful education or employment much more difficult.
Young people have different issues and needs to adults, so there are many reasons why they can become homeless. It’s often because it’s not safe for them to stay at home, or family life has become too hard.
Homelessness and rough sleeping is often viewed as a problem which only exists in large cities but there are many homeless people in Devon, not just in the larger urban areas such as Exeter, but also in the more rural and remote parts of the county.
Centrepoint, the UK’s leading homelessness charity estimated in 2017-2018 that 103,000 young people asked for help from their local council because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness. This is the only estimate of its kind and shows that in both rural and urban local authorities the scale of youth homelessness can represent an alarmingly high percentage of the youth population as a whole.
According to Shelter, the number of young people presenting as homeless in the South West was estimated at 11,260 in 2017. Research showed the number of homeless people in the region increased that year by 11% and the charity estimates 1 in 367 people are homeless in Exeter alone.
Local authorities have a duty to house certain groups of homeless people under the homelessness legislation including young people aged 16 to 17, and care leavers aged 18 to 20 who are some of the most vulnerable groups in society.
What are the challenges for young people?
Young people in England today face many challenges which can impact their transition to independence and adulthood, such as a high risk of poverty, reductions in benefits, and discrimination in getting housing and employment. The top three support needs of young people reported by homelessness accommodation providers include; not being in education, employment or training, a lack of independent living skills and mental health problems.
#Focus5 can support young people to work through the challenges facing them and make positive steps towards education, employment and training.
To read more and find out about some of the local organisations supporting homeless young people take a look at the #Focus5 website and if you know of any young people who could use #Focus5 support please get in touch.