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Young people (16 - 25) and homelessness

Leaving home as a young person 

When to leave home is a major decision which should not be taken lightly. Although leaving home will grant you more freedom, it also means you will have responsibilities that you have probably not had to deal with before. The best way to leave home is after careful thought and planning. Leaving your parental home at a very young age, especially if you have nowhere to go, should be the very last option that you should consider. You could easily end up homeless. 

From 1 April 2017, some 18 to 21 year olds claiming Universal Credit are not entitled to help with housing costs in Universal Credit full service areas. The GOV.UK website  provides more information about which 18-21 year olds can still get help with their housing costs. 

Explore your options first 

When you are ready to leave, you will need to decide the type of housing that will suit you best. A major factor in making this decision will probably be your financial situation. The cost of running a home is rising all the time. Many people decide to share with others at first as this will mean you can share the rent and bills. Seek advice before you decide and do not rush into anything. 

If you are having problems at home 

There is help and support available. Try to find someone you trust to talk to, such as friends, extended family such as an aunt or uncle, or a teacher at your school or college. If the situation becomes worse, see if there is a place you can go to for a night or two to let everyone cool down. We may be able to provide mediation in your home with your family to talk about the problems. Remember, no matter how bad things may seem, if you leave home without preparation, you may find yourself in an even worse situation.   

Feeling unsafe at home? 

If you have absolutely no choice and feel that you have to leave home immediately, for example because someone is being violent or abusive towards you, you must seek help right away. 

There are a number of agencies who can assist you, including perhaps finding you a safe place to go. Some of these are listed below: 

  • Childline: 0800 1111 free 24 hour support helpline for children and young people 

  • Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247 free 24-hour helpline for victims of domestic violence 

  • Shelterline: 0808 800 4444 free 24 hour helpline giving information on housing 

Being asked to leave by friends and family  

Being asked to leave by friends and family is one of the biggest causes of homelessness in England and a much better outcome can be achieved if a move is made in a planned way. We recognise that living in a multi-generational home or staying temporarily with friends can be extremely difficult but it is always better to plan a move. The only exception to this is if the arrangement is unsafe due to a risk of violence. 

If you are being asked to leave your current accommodation, seek early assistance. You can be helped by trained staff with  mediation and negotiation skills who  will work with you and the excluder by providing practical ideas to help you all try and work out a solution, so you don’t have to leave home immediately. Generally, for people leaving home, it is a major decision and requires careful thought and planning. Alternatives if you do need to leave home are likely be accommodation renting privately. 

I am 16 or 17 years old and  homeless or about to become homeless  

If you are a homeless young person aged 16 - 17 years old, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has a legal duty to support you. The children’s services and housing department will undertake a joint assessment of needs; will explain to you the different support accommodation options available under the Housing Act duties and the Children Act 1989, to help you to understand the options and choices, including advice and information and mediation. 

Alternatively, you can call the Multi- Agency Safe Guarding Hub (MASH) Team on; 

  • 020 7364 5601/5606. The line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (excluding public holidays) 

  • Out of office hours please call Emergency Duty Team on; 0207 364 4079 

  • Email: MASH@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

The team can give advice and guidance, can identify appropriate support and refer on to services where applicable. 

The MASH receives contacts through a variety of methods ‐ telephone, email, and letter. These contacts are made by professionals, members of the public and service users. 

Contacts from professionals must be made using multi agency referral form; however, where there are immediate child protection concerns, referrals must be made by telephone and followed up in writing as soon as possible using referral form. 

Find out more about the Early Help Hub.     

Further Housing support 

  • Stonewall Housing - the specialist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) housing advice and support provider in England. We provide housing support for LGBT people in their own homes, supported housing for young LGBT people, as well as free, confidential housing advice for LGBT people of all ages. Visit the Stonewall Housing website

  • Centrepoint - a charity supporting homeless people aged 16-25. If you're rough sleeping, sofa surfing or don't feel safe in your home, the Centrepoint Helpline is there to support you. You can also get in touch if you're worried about a young person. Visit the Centrepoint website 

  • The Mix - the UK’s leading support service for young people under the age of 25. They tackle issues from money to mental health, homelessness to finding a job, from break ups to drugs.  Visit The Mix website  

  • New Horizon Youth centre - helps young people aged 16-21 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and can help with finding a place to stay, sorting out benefits or debts, getting into employment/training, and much more. They also offer counselling, a nurse, breakfast and lunch, laundry and showers.  Visit the New Horizon Youth centre website  

  • Depaul: Alone in London - helps 16-25 year olds who are at risk of homelessness by providing advice about getting accommodation and benefits, family mediation, counselling, school mediation and training and employment. They have access to showers and laundry.  Visit the Depaul website 

Visit the Shelter pages for young people for more advice.