Youth homelessness is growing. The latest government figures show that the number of young people approaching their council for help has grown year on year.
Homelessness in England and Wales is a growing and increasingly pressing issue. The latest figures released by government present a comprehensive overview of the state of statutory homelessness and emphasise the challenges young people face. Last year, 23 298,430 people in the UK approached their council seeking help with homelessness (an increase of 6.8% from 2021/22).
Whilst this number is shocking, it’s likely to be an underrepresentation of the true figure as it doesn’t take into account the hidden homeless (such as those who are sofa surfing – more information about sofa surfing).
1 in 5 of all individuals assessed as homeless or at risk of homelessness across England and Wales were aged 16-24. That’s 165 young people every day who are assessed as homeless, or at risk of it, in England and Wales.
We are only too aware of the issue. In the last six months we have seen an average increase of around 32% in the number of young people approaching our Brighton Youth Advice Centre in housing crisis. Despite being able to prevent homelessness for the majority of those that come to us, through securing emergency accommodation, referring them into other charities such as Sussex Nightstop, helping arrange alternative accommodation with friends or relatives, or getting them into family mediation, increasingly there are times when they run out of options.
One YMCA Youth Advice Centre Housing Support Worker explained:
“We can’t always solve their problems or give them the answers that they want, which is really difficult. Sometimes we just haven’t got the answers, or the resources, and there isn’t any appropriate housing available. We will exhaust every option to try and find them appropriate housing, but sometimes we have to do the worst thing and tell a young person that their only option is rough sleeping.
But, even in that situation they know that we will make sure the street team know where they are. We always want to make sure that that young person leaves this space feeling like they’ve been heard and acknowledged and that we are going to work on their case and keep them on our books until we find them a housing option.”
The lucky ones are those that we are able to provide a room to in our supported housing. Although we are one of the biggest providers of supported housing in the South East, our waiting lists are long and growing. Every night we provide a bed to over 650 young people. But, we offer more than just a bed for someone in crisis. We provide a safe home and access to life skills and emotional support to enable young people to thrive. Click here to find out more about our housing services for young people.