Brighton & Hove City Council Cut Funding for Youth Advice Centre - YMCA DownsLink Group

Brighton & Hove City Council Cut Funding for Youth Advice Centre

Picture of the outside of Brighton's Youth Advice Centre


Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) has confirmed that it will not recommission the specialist housing youth advice and tenancy support contract delivered by Brighton’s Youth Advice Centre (YAC). The Youth Advice Centre, run by YMCA DownsLink Group, has been preventing youth homelessness by providing housing advice and a pathway into emergency accommodation for young people in the city for 30 years.  Currently, it is the front door for any young person facing homelessness as well as providing, or signposting, many other vital support and advice services.

YMCA DownsLink Group are deeply concerned about the impact the loss of the service will have on young people facing homelessness across the city. In the last six months the number of young people accessing the service, in housing crisis, has increased by an average of 32% compared to the same period last year.

Emily Brock, CEO of YMCA DownsLink Group said:

We’re devastated by the decision to cut funding for the housing support contract at the Youth Advice Centre. Our primary concern is the impact this will have on already vulnerable young people in the city. We’re deeply worried that without this service more young people will be forced to sleep rough.

Our Youth Advice Centre provides a specialist, trauma informed, safeguarding response to homeless young people. The decision to cut this funding removes this vital pathway for young people, so that 18-25s will have to present at the council’s customer care centre alongside adults. We’re concerned that the council will not be able to deliver the standard of care needed to manage young people’s complex situations. We believe that it’s a false economy as it will undoubtably cost the public purse more if young people are left in crisis, need emergency housing, and then potentially end up on an inappropriate and avoidable adult pathway.

She continues:

Whilst we understand the financial pressure that BHCC is under, we believe this is a vital service and this decision will impact the ecosystem of support for young people in the city. Our priority is to work with our staff, BHCC and our sector partners to best support the young people already accessing the service and to manage the transition into whatever alternative provision is devised by the council. Without doubt, our preference would be to work with our colleagues at BHCC to offer a reduced service, in line with budget constraints, and continue to support children and young people in our city with this vital, and effective, provision.

Every year, the Youth Advice Centre supports around 1,000 children and young people and plays a key role in early intervention, advocacy and signposting to prevent crisis. It is the only provision for 13-25 year olds in Brighton & Hove that is open daily Monday to Friday, has no service threshold criteria and does not operate waiting lists for support. Annually, it achieves a 73% homeless prevention rate through specialist housing advice and family mediation to prevent parental eviction. It is also the referral pathway into ‘homeless that night’ host accommodation provided by local charity, Night Stop, which offers an alternative to sleeping rough.

As well as Night Stop, organisations such as Brighton Housing Trust, Amaze, Just Life, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, Trust for Developing Communities, Citizens Advice and Grassroots Suicide Prevention are concerned that the loss of this service will negatively impact young people and have a knock-on effect on their own services.

Speaking about the decision, Fabia Bates, CEO of Clock Tower Sanctuary said:

By working in a holistic way, the Youth Advice Centre provide a preventative service. For many, homelessness is preceded by other issues in their lives. Having the housing advice available within the Youth Advice Centre means that those who do not immediately meet thresholds are offered a range of support, signposting and referrals which build their resilience and can prevent future escalation. It is highly unlikely that this wrap around support could ever be replicated by the council, so the opportunity for preventative work would be lost.

The Youth Advice Centre also plays an important advocacy role between social care and housing support and organises joint assessments for 16/ 17-year-old children. It supports young people into private rented accommodation and problem solves tenant disputes to prevent youth eviction and reduce homelessness. It attends the city’s ‘Supported Accommodation Panel’ and is often the only agency who has ongoing oversight and care of young people waiting for supported accommodation. The staff at the Youth Advice Centre manage high levels of complexity and risk, largely around safeguarding, whilst young people wait for specialist services.

Brighton’s Youth Advice Centre is an important gateway into many other services in the city. It is a model of good practice offering easy access for young people and supports the council’s own Mental and Emotional Wellbeing Plan. It works in partnership with schools, GPs, Police, adult & children’s social care, adult & children’s mental health services, third sector youth providers, street outreach services, supported accommodation providers, Department for Work and Pensions, colleges and universities, drug & alcohol services and sexual health services.

At a time when youth homelessness is growing there are concerns, across the city, about the impact on young people if this core preventative youth service is lost.


YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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