Over the coldest months, at the height of Covid infections, 300 young people had no other option than sleeping on the streets, according to the official London rough sleeping figures released today. Some of the most vulnerable 16-25 year olds have nowhere safe to stay in the pandemic. That’s why, with Centrepoint, we are calling for government to invest in youth-specific emergency accommodation.

The number of under-25s reported in the CHAIN statistics for the period October to December 2020 is a 4.5% year-on-year rise on 2019’s figure. A staggering one in ten of all people found sleeping rough in London in 2020 were younger than 25. Many more were hidden homeless or in dangerous situations to avoid the streets.

Behind these brutal numbers are young people at risk and uncertain about what might come next, struggling to get somewhere safe to sleep, let alone to get stability in their housing and lives. In order to better understand the blockages in the system and support needed, we sought to capture a winter snapshot of what our New Horizon teams have been seeing on the ground.

Using our data of the same period as the latest CHAIN report, we found that:

  • Particularly vulnerable cohorts of young people are increasingly sleeping rough and at risk
  • Young people are contacting their local councils more, but are not accessing support
  • Young people have increasingly fragmented pathways into emergency and long-term accommodation, exposing them to greater risk

Of the young people our team supported into accommodation during that period, 66% had no other option than to stay with strangers in backpackers’ hostels. By mid-January 2021 59% were still in emergency accommodation.

The lack of adequate emergency accommodation for young people is not new, and we are pleased to see a growing understanding that it demands much greater urgency. It is just not acceptable that so many under-25s are left on the streets, especially in the middle of a pandemic, and so we are calling on the government to step up and invest in safe, youth-specific options for young people sleeping rough.

Phil Kerry, CEO of New Horizon, said: “We are enormously concerned about the continued high numbers of young people on the streets in London. Many more will be slipping through cracks in current provision. These young people don’t just need emergency accommodation; they need it to be safe and appropriate for their age. We know this can and must be done. The impact of rough sleeping on young people’s lives is enormous, and so the investment needed for youth-specific solutions is relatively just so very small.”


“I stayed in backpackers hostel for a week or two. They put me in a room with 6 people who had loud conversations until 2 or 3am and would fight. I was only getting 2.5 hours of sleep and it was really grinding me. I felt like I wanted to be on the street more. They were all older than me, and I felt like I couldn’t say anything. It really wasn’t helping with my anxiety.”

Ali, 20


Download the New Horizon Winter Snapshot Report


For any queries, please contact Marike van Harskamp, Policy and Partnerships Manager, [email protected], tel 07956926447

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