The London Evening Standard is collaborating with Centrepoint, to launch a helpline for young people aged 16-25 who find themselves with nowhere to live.
Centrepoint claim that the sooner a young person is helped, the better for everyone, as “more than 150,000 young people ask for help with homelessness every year.”
They say they have a high rate of success: “We see an amazing 90 per cent move into their own homes or connect back with their families, get their first jobs or go to uni.”
Abi, who is 18 years-old, currently lives in a hostel after her parents asked her to leave home: “My parents kicked me out as they believed they couldn’t handle me with both, my mental health and what they called a drug problem,” she told Artefact.
“I had to go to the council and declare myself homeless, I went through the housing team where they placed me in temporary accommodation and then I was stuck there for about two weeks.
“I spent my time looking for local hostels that would take in first time homeless people so I spent a lot of time searching round friend’s houses etc,” she said.
Abi says that if she had known about Centrepoint she definitely would have used it. She believes that there is a lot of information that is hard to access as a young person, like how to claim benefits and what benefits she needed to claim, she says that people her age need to know more about where you can get food stamps or donations such as toiletries.
“I currently live in a hostel run by the Kingsarms project, which helps support people who are homeless for the first time and helps them sort out their benefits,” says Abi.
“For example I currently claim housing benefit, which helps pay for the costs of my room, except the £24 rent I pay a week which comes out my ESA (employment and support allowance) and I am looking into PIP (personal independence payments).”
When a young person approaches their local council for assistance with accommodation, they assess the person’s needs and give them the support they need.
This usually starts with emergency accommodation, which won’t be a bed and breakfast, as that isn’t considered safe for someone in need of support.
People who are considered in need of support include those who have a disability, are a care leaver, have come to the UK from abroad without a parent or guardian or just have nowhere to live.
Abi described her current situation: “I currently live in a small hostel where there’s only five residents, we are only there for four-to-six months and then are made to move on into supported living or moved into a shared flat which may also be temporary.”
“Currently I’m very happy, I feel my anxiety levels are settling a bit, but I am still anxious over the future,” she told us. “I worry over my money situations and where I could be moved next.”
Abi has a behavioural disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and when she was approaching the council for support she says they were sensitive to this.
“I believe the local authorities took all my behavioural and mental health issues into consideration, they labelled me as a ‘high support’, however, I disagreed and was placed in a low support hostel which suits me better.”
“I know about five or six people in similar situations, some chose to leave and some like me were kicked out.”
A child in need is someone who is either 16 or 17, and has no money for food, nowhere to live or has problems that affect their health or education.
They can also be considered in need if they live with a violent person or if their parents aren’t willing or able to look after them.
So many children are put in a situation like this on a daily basis, and the reality is that most don’t know where to go or who to talk to.
Abi says that the advice she would give to someone facing a situation like this would be: “Don’t waste time sofa surfing, go straight to your council and sign a declaration of being homeless, inform them you have nowhere to stay.”
“You will almost instantly be placed into a temporary accommodation, I was lucky enough to have one with Wi-Fi where I could search up hostels and make calls.”
“Make sure you understand what level of support you need and make sure you let them know your age and the fact you’re homeless,”she says.
The helpline will come into effect on February 13th. For more information click here.
Featured image by Sebastian Raskop via Flickr CC