Nowadays big numbers are hard to picture, to the point where, for some of us, they lose meaning. But here is an image we can all understand, a train, the kind you maybe take to work or school, with every seat full. But this isn’t your normal group of commuters, every seat is filled by a young person with nowhere safe to call home. And every day a new bus, full of young people who are unsafe and unhoused. That’s 353 young people a day. A new young person every 4 minutes, and two wo out of five of these young people approaching their council are not offered any support. Your reaction may be to wonder; how is this going unnoticed?
In 2021-22, according to Centrepoint estimates, 129,000 16–25-year-olds presented at their local authority as homeless or at risk of homelessness. Many young people remain hidden, not showing up in the data, so this figure could easily be double and with COVID and the cost-of-living crisis, it’s getting worse.
That is why we’ve joined a collective of over 100 leading youth and youth homelessness charitiess have come together to call on this government and the next to adopt a cross-departmental strategy to end youth homelessness as a manifesto commitment.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Young people are often pushed into homelessness due to violence, abuse, and trauma at home or in the care or criminal justice system. Required to be socially and financially independent for the first time, they face lower pay and minimum wage jobs, and are punished by lowered benefits if they increase their work hours despite receiving lower income overall.
Young people are often invisible to authorities and services, more likely to be ‘hidden homeless,’ sleeping on a friend’s sofa or alternating between different short-term accommodations. If they do show up at their local council for support, they are often not seen as ‘priority need’ or taken seriously. In 2020-21, Centrepoint found that 44% weren’t assessed when they presented at their local authority. Many are told to go home even though this may not be a safe option. Otherwise, they’re required to provide evidence of their homelessness, leading to cruel processes like having to approach their former caregiver for written confirmation that they’re no longer welcome in their home.
There isn’t enough suitable, affordable and youth appropriate housing. And with no ready guarantor to secure rental housing if family relationships have broken down, young people can be left with no options, and at serious risk of exploitation. This picture is only exacerbated for young people of minoritised communities.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
A new collective of 100 homelessness and youth organisations have united to call on those in power and seeking to be in power to put young people first, and to deliver a strategy to end youth homelessness as a manifesto commitment ahead of the next general election.
Our CEO, Phil Kerry shared:
“Homelessness isn’t a mystery or senseless, it’s a direct outcome of the systems that are meant to protect us all failing. When people don’t have the ability or support to advocate for themselves and push for help, they fall through the cracks. The severity of the situation requires a bolder and youth-specific response.
Adopting a youth homelessness strategy, based in the evidence from the sector, would directly transform the lives and futures of young people in the UK, something any government would be proud of.”
Join us to campaign for a #PlanForThe129k
Existing signatories include :