Monday 26 October – New research, ‘We Have a Voice, Follow Our Lead’, has been published by Homeless Link, the membership organisation for homelessness charities. The research report, co-produced with young people who have experienced homelessness, shines a light on the boundless potential and resilience of young people facing homelessness and calls for urgent action to address the system and policies currently failing them. The research has been jointly funded by LandAid, the property industry charity, and the Blagrave Trust, a funder supporting young people to realise their potential.
The research paints a stark picture of youth homelessness in the UK, casting a shocking light on how our current systems and policies – from mental health and welfare, to homelessness and child protection – can get in the way of young people’s realisation of their goals, undermine their confidence and, ultimately, fail them when they are needed most. However, it also highlights the resilience, strength and aspirations of young people experiencing homelessness; identifying five key factors to young people moving away from homelessness and achieving their aspirations: the five C’s – confidence, choice, community, consistency and control. It also gives clear policy recommendations to the government including:
- The development of a cross-departmental youth homelessness strategy that focuses on prevention, youth participation and multi-agency support. Like the current Rough Sleeping Strategy, it should give the fight against youth homelessness the profile and urgency it deserves.
- Immediately bring forward plans to extend the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) exemption for homeless under-25s and care leavers. Match the Universal Credit standard allowance for under-25s to the amount over-25s receive, while maintaining the COVID-19 uplift of £20 per week.
- Provide local areas with long-term capital and revenue investment into a range of supported housing options for young people that recognise the diversity of their needs and experiences.
The research was produced in early 2020, before Covid-19, however it is clear that its findings are more important than ever. Recent data point to a growing crisis of youth homelessness as we head into winter. Figures from CHAIN show a more than 80% increase in young people rough sleeping in London between April and June 2020, compared to the same time last year. At the same time, youth homelessness helplines run by Centrepoint and the Albert Kennedy Trust reported a doubling in calls during the COVID-19 lockdown, many from young people trapped in abusive households. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only worsened the systemic drivers of youth homelessness that the report identified.
Rick Henderson, Chief Executive, Homeless Link says: “With youth homelessness on the rise, exacerbated by the pandemic, it is vital that we act now to address the systemic issues and policies that are failing them. Young people are capable and passionate agents for change and services have a role in empowering them to reach their potential and leave their homelessness behind them.”
Paul Morish, Chief Executive, LandAid says: “LandAid is proud to have funded Homeless Link’s research on youth homelessness for a second time. The last six months have been difficult for our whole society, we have all made huge sacrifices and seen our lives change immeasurably. But at LandAid we have also seen the commitment of our supporters and the real estate industry to our mission. Through the LandAid COVID-19 Fund we were able to help thousands of young people across the country through this crisis and for that we are truly grateful. This research highlights, not only the rise in youth homelessness, but how we, as a society can solve it. Together we can end youth homelessness.”
You can find the research here.