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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Homelessness ‘kills young’

December 02 2014
Almost a fifth of young people in the UK have slept rough in the past year

Shocking new figures show that almost a fifth of young people in the UK have slept rough in the past year.

The poll was commissioned by Centrepoint and carried out by ComRes, who interviewed 2,011 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 this October. Of those who took part in the study, 18 per cent had slept on the streets, on buses and in other unsafe accommodation in the past year, because they’d nowhere else to go – a third of these had been homeless for over a week. Of the full 2,011 respondents, 31 per cent said they had slept rough at some point in their lives.

Ben Knox, a spokesperson from Homeless Link, told the Pavement: “Around half of those in Homeless Link accommodation are under 25.” Knox added that there are a number of indicators for young people who are ‘at risk’, such as substance misuse, and experience of care homes and the criminal justice system.

“Emergency accommodation and mediation services are key to addressing the problem,” said Knox, “as temporary breakdowns in relations with a parent can often be resolved.” But he voiced concerns about cuts across the sector: “More agencies are saying they are having to turn people away due to their complex needs. We are concerned this is being caused by funding issues, with more services having to reduce the specialised help they were once able to offer.”

Val Keen, executive director for Housing, Support and Care at Depaul UK, has noticed the impact: “Our London Nightstop service, which provides emergency accommodation in volunteers’ homes, has experienced a 300 per cent increase in referrals. Drastic shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, family breakdown and mental health problems are all factors contributing to youth homelessness. The local authorities we work with are facing extreme reductions in funding, making it more difficult to provide services to the most vulnerable young people.”

Unfortunately, the government’s data on rough sleeping is not broken down by age and is limited to estimates and a one-night snap-shot survey, says Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint. “From this, it’s impossible to ensure that vital support services for homeless young people are available in the right place at the right time.

“Homelessness is killing young people and 80,000 young people across the UK face homelessness each year. We urgently need to get them off the streets.”

If you need help, contact Shelter: www.shelter.org.uk

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