Housing has always been a big issue for national Citizens Advice. Whether through collaboration in the National Homelessness Advice Service, or through championing a better deal for renters with the Settled and Safe campaign, housing and homelessness have always been high on our agenda. Here at Citizens Advice Hart, we’re very aware of how big an issue housing can be: it was the fifth largest problem which people came to see us about during the year 2015-2016.
We’ve recently undertaken a new youth housing and homelessness project, with support from Hart Rotary club. We wanted to look into the information that was available, specifically for young people, about housing and homelessness services in our local area.
According to national youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, around 150,000 young people a year approach their local authorities as a result of being homeless or at risk of becoming so. Whilst youth homelessness is a relatively minor issue for Hart District, it is certainly not a non-existent one. In one year from 2015-2016, 18 people between the ages of 16 and 24 contacted Hart District Council for help with housing/homelessness. 9 were given official ‘statutory homeless’ status.
The aim of our youth homelessness project was to look into this to ensure that young people at risk in our area are aware of the help that is available. We also did some research to gain an understanding of the nature of youth homelessness nationally. Having found a wealth of information, we took the key information and placed it in one leaflet, in order to make it more accessible.
The information leaflet has been designed to support young people in a variety of circumstances. For young people experiencing homelessness, we have provided information about local services such as the Hart Housing Options team, which can be contacted in an emergency.
For young people who are considering leaving home and living independently, we have listed finding a job, finding suitable accommodation, and money management as the most important considerations. Alongside this, we have signposted them to available support, such as the Citizens Advice budgeting tool, and the National Careers Service.
Finally, we have provided information for young people who are struggling at home. Centrepoint estimate that six in ten of the young people whom they support experience homelessness as a result of relationship breakdown. Bearing this in mind, we have made young people aware of the family mediation services available at Step by Step in Aldershot. We have also noted the helpline numbers of organisations such as Childline, to ensure that young people in an emergency can access the help that they need.
Alongside the information provided we have sought to dispel some of the misconceptions which exist about homelessness, such as the idea that to be classed as homeless, a person must be sleeping rough.
The youth homelessness leaflet will be distributed to local sixth forms, and publicised on social media. Through explaining the services that are available in an accessible format, we hope to provide vital support to vulnerable young people throughout Hart District.
To request a copy/ies please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Data compiled by youth homelessness charity Centrepoint in the Youth Homelessness Databank.