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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Scottish Parliament probes youth homelessness

March 06 2012
Inquiry will investigate the early triggers for homelessness, the problems facing care leavers and homeless young people in rural areas

 

The Scottish Parliament has launched an enquiry into youth homelessness, to help shed light on why young people find themselves without a home and how to prevent it.

The enquiry will investigate issues such as the early triggers for young homelessness and its link with runaways. The committee will also look at the problems facing care leavers, and homeless young people in rural areas.

It also aims to explore good practice in local authorities and other agencies working to prevent youth homelessness and identify in preventative services and how these gaps can be bridged.

It was sparked by a round table discussion on the issue held by the Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee at the end of last year, which was attended by MSPs, representatives from charities as well as a young person who had experienced homelessness and had been supported by Quarriers. During the discussion, the group highlighted a variety of factors which contribute to homelessness including family breakdown, overcrowding, addictions, mental health problems and leaving care.

More than 20 written responses have been received following a call for evidence. They have come from a variety of groups including the Prince’s Trust, Scottish Women’s Aid, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Families Outside, and Barnardo’s.

National charity Shelter claimed there was a need for more housing support, and for more good quality, affordable housing while the Citizen’s Advice Bureau highlighted how economic factors resulting for the current recession were increasingly squeezing young people out of the housing market.

The charity highlighted the fact a third of all homelessness applications come from single people under the age of 25 and called for fair and equal treatment under the housing benefit system as well as better access to affordable mortgage schemes and more housing which is suitable for young people.

The Edinburgh-based Grassmarket Community Project reported a steady increase in the number of young people and formerly “middle class’ people who are relying on stop-gaps like savings, parental support and further education to avoid homelessness.

Scottish Women’s Aid highlighted domestic abuse as a significant cause of youth homelessness. The charity said research showed a violent relationship with a partner was the second most common reason for homelessness applications among 16-24-year-olds, covering around 14 per cent of all applications, while 11 per cent were due to violence in the parental home.

The Prince’s Trust emphasised the importance of providing practical life skills to help young people avoid homelessness, which it says help improve confidence and motivation, as well as employment prospects. The enquiry continues.

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