Time for a youth homelessness strategy?
Phil Kerry, CEO at New Horizon’s Youth Centre writes about a call to action to end youth homelessness:
Centrepoint estimates that 129,000 young people approached their council for help to avoid becoming homeless last year.
- That’s 353 young people a day.
- A new young person every 4 minutes.
- Two out of five young people approaching their council are not offered support.
People like Talia who walked through the doors of New Horizon Youth Centre (NHYC) after weeks of sleeping in her partner’s car. Asked to leave home by her parents because of her sexuality, the council told her they couldn’t help, that she wasn’t in priority need, despite having complex mental health diagnoses. Out of options, she stayed up all night looking for services who could provide her with a lifeline and was in the NHYC day centre the following day accessing our housing, advice and health teams. Talia is just one of 1,200 people who came to us for support last year. We think young people like Talia deserve better.
Pushed into homelessness, young people find themselves facing youth-specific barriers: often leaving homes where they are somewhat socially and economically dependent, young people face challenges evidencing their homelessness and are told to go back to unsafe homes. Even when they do get support, they find themselves subject to age related pay and benefit discrimination.
The official homelessness figures are the tip of the iceberg. We know there are thousands more who are hidden homeless, navigating between friend’s sofas and the fear of the streets. At New Horizon’s around half of the young people using our services have not contacted their council and won’t be counted.
That is why 9 leading youth homelessness organisations have come together to call on this government and the next to adopt a strategy to end youth homelessness as a manifesto commitment.
We are calling for a cross-departmental national strategy that prioritises:
- Preventing young people from reaching crisis point in the first place
- Housing solutions that catch and support those facing homelessness.
- Financial support the allows young people to build successful, independent lives.
Join us. We are asking organisations to support our call for a national youth homelessness strategy. So far 75 organisations have signed up.
Phil Kerry is the Chief Executive of @nhyouthcentre and a member of our Youth Homelessness Advisory Group. For as long as young Londoners find themselves homeless and unsafe, New Horizon Youth Centre will be on a mission to give their potential a home.
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