Homeless young people are less likely to finish their education, find work, and maintain friendships.
Their lack of a home impacts on their wellbeing, and they are more likely to experience depression, poor nutrition, substance abuse, and mental health problems.
The fact that homelessness is on the increase among the young is greatly concerning.
Given the UK is one of the richest countries in the world, homelessness seems like an affront to our humanity but there are steps being taken to ensure that this is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue.
There are many charities and organisations doing all they can to address the homelessness crisis.
They address short term solutions; for example, the Trussell Trust runs 1,200 food banks countrywide, helping to feed those in crisis.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, leading youth homeless charity Centrepoint has ambitious plans to end youth homelessness by the year 2037.
“An estimated 121,000 young people in the UK asked their councils for help with homelessness in 2019-20, based on figures provided by local authorities and devolved administrations,” it said.
“However, it is worth bearing in mind that not everyone reaches out to the council for help, and many more, aged between 16 and 24, are ‘hidden homeless’.
“Between 2018-19 and 2019-20, several English regions saw a rise in the number of young people seeking help with homelessness.
“The North West had the largest increase, with 30 per cent more young people seeking help, followed by the East of England with a 20 per cent increase and the South West with a 19 per cent rise.’
What is even more worrying, Centrepoint adds, is that the figures show that youth homelessness was already rising before the coronavirus pandemic.
The terrible tragedy of youth homelessness cannot be underestimated and, while there are short-term solutions to help those living on the street, temporary accommodation and handouts don’t always change lives for the better.
Charities such as Homeless Link actively look for homeless young people they can help, and as well as listening to their problems they point them in the direction of organisations that can provide them further support.
They’ve conducted research over the past six years looking at youth homelessness, and are now taking their work further by establishing a Youth Homeless Project.
Funded by Comic Relief, it is dedicated to identifying interventions, opportunities and risks to specifically prevent and respond to youth homelessness.
The Foyer also creates an environment for homeless young people to thrive by offering accommodation with opportunities and a community in which they can grow.
By integrating training and job search, personal support and motivation with a place to live, they provide a bridge to independence, and a chance for young people to realise their full potential.
Another charity taking a more holistic approach to youth homelessness is the De Paul charity which employs Progression Coaches to work alongside young people to empower them to live independently.
Their activity programmes help young people to manage mental health problems, build healthy relationships and access education, employment and training while their peer-led housing scheme offers affordable housing for young people to move on to, or if they decide to move into other accommodation they can still can access floating support when needed. https://uk.depaulcharity.org/stability/
Stability and support are key to many initiatives helping young people move on and live the life they deserve to and that is what Centrepoint’s most radical initiative, their Independent Living programme aims to do.
Centreppint is building 30 modular homes in Peckham kickstarting a programme that will be rolled out to other areas in the UK https://justentrepreneurs.co.uk/news-1/centrepoint-awarded-planning-permission-from-southwark-council-for-new-modular-home-development-to-house-33-young-homeless-people-in-peckham
Uniquely, not only will the project involve creating affordable places for young people to live but it provides a proper solution to the homlessness crisis by attaching to it entry-level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full-time employment as well as rents they can actually afford,
The new modular housing is less expensive to complete than a traditional build and can be pre-built and transported to any location but young people will only be charged approximately one-third of their salary to rent them. This means that a 20- year old in Manchester on the minimum wage would pay approximately £350 a month to live alone. Not only that but these homes are very much the foundations on which they’ll be able to build a future for themselves. One which they may have never dared to imagine in the past .