Homelessness and Housing
Homelessness and Housing
Being homeless is scary and confusing. You can feel as if you have nowhere to go and no one to support you. Young people become homeless for many reasons. Often it is because of issues at home. If your parents or carers can no longer support you then you might have to move out. But you may not have anywhere to go.
You may have experienced domestic violence at home and feel like you need to leave. You might be having problems at school or be in a stressful situation. You could be running away from a forced marriage. Or you might be pregnant and not know where to go for help.
If you are homeless it doesn’t always mean you’re sleeping on the streets. This is also called sleeping rough and while some homeless people do this, it is not the only option. Being homeless means you don’t have somewhere to live. If you’re sofa surfing with friends this can also mean you’re homeless.
If you are unhappy at home you may feel like you want to run away. You might think this is your only option. But there is support available. Being a runaway is different to being homeless. It means you have chosen to leave where you were living. Even if you have a good reason for running away you still have a home that you could go back to.
You are homeless if you are living on the streets or on friends’ sofas and have nowhere else to go. This means you don’t have a choice about returning to a home.
If you are thinking about running away because you are unhappy at home you should get support now. Call Childline or the Runaway Helpline to get advice about what you can do.
Living in care If you are living in care it means you are living away from your parents. You might be staying with friends or relatives. You could be in a foster home. Or you might be in a care home or at a residential school.
There are many reasons why young people go into care. It might be that your family is unable to look after you properly. If your home isn’t safe for you anymore you could be put into care to keep you from harm. Living in care can be very difficult. It will often mean a lot of change is happening in your life.
You might miss your family. If you’ve had to move away from where you used to live you might miss your friends too. It’s normal to have these feelings and to feel nervous and scared about the future. You might even feel guilty if you feel happier in your new home. Whatever you’re experiencing there are always people you can talk to.
Speaking to a counsellor can help you make sense of your feelings. If you are unhappy after you move into care it’s good to get some support. Running away won’t help.
When you are 18 the law will class you as an adult. This will usually mean you leave care. You will have a lot of things to think about. As well as finding a home you will need to decide if you want to continue studying, such as by going to university. Or you may decide to find a job or apprenticeship.
Social services should still help you once you leave care. They can help you find a home and provide some money towards it if you are working. If you go to university they will help with the cost of your course and make sure you have enough money to pay for your student accommodation. Your university may also offer additional financial support if you have been living in care.
What is it like to live on the streets?
Living on the streets is hard. It can be very scary and lonely. Sleeping rough is cold and you will often be hungry. You might also be in danger from other people. You won’t have access to a bathroom or clean water. There’s nowhere to wash and nowhere safe to keep your belongings.
It can be hard to find somewhere safe to sleep or rest. You won’t have food or money. You could also become ill from being outdoors all the time. Or you might get hurt or someone could steal from you. If you are sleeping on the streets you need to get help. Contact a charity like Shelter or Depaul to find out where you could stay until you can work out something more permanent.
I’ve been kicked out of home. Is there anywhere I can stay?
If you are kicked out of your home by your parents or carers don’t panic. You should start by going to a safe place, like a friend or relative’s house. Then you should contact your local housing department or social services. If you are under 18 they will have to find you somewhere safe to stay.
There is also a network of Nightstop services in the UK. These provide safe emergency places to stay for young people aged 16 to 25. They are provided by volunteers who will give you their spare room to stay in for the night. If you are not sure who to go to, contact Shelter and they will be able to give you advice.
My friend has asked if they can run away from home and stay with me. What should I say?
You may want to help your friend by offering them a place to stay but this isn’t the best option. If they are talking to you about wanting to run away try to get them to speak to a counsellor first. If there is a reason why they’re so unhappy at home they will need to get help with this.
You could try to get them to contact social services about what’s happening at home. They will be able to support them and may find them somewhere else to live.
You should also talk to your parents to get some support. It can be hard to deal with a friend who is so unhappy so make sure you stay strong for them.
Can I ask to be taken into care?
If you’re feeling really unhappy at home you may think that going into care is a better option. Social services will only place you in care if they believe you are in danger and that there is no other way to make sure you’re safe and properly looked after.
If you don’t feel safe at home you should talk to an adult you trust. Speak to a teacher, your doctor or even a friend’s parent. They will be able to help you get access to the support you need. Social services will look at your situation and then decide what steps to take.
What happens if you go into care?
If social services thinks you are not safe or being well looked after at home they can make a care order. This means that social services will be responsible for you and your wellbeing. They will talk to you about where you want to live. But it will be their final decision about where you end up living.
Going into care can mean there are a lot of changes. You might have to move schools if you go into care in a different area. You should still be able to see your friends and family as long as this doesn’t put you in danger. You will be able to take some of your personal belongings with you. This can help you settle into your new home and feel more comfortable there.
My parents/carers have told me that I won’t be able to stay at home after I turn 18. What should I do?
Leaving home when you are 18 can feel scary but there is support available. If you have been in care then social services will support you until you are 21. They can help you find somewhere to live and will be able to give you some help with money too.
If you haven’t been in care you should talk to your parents about where you will go when you leave home. Start looking for accommodation well before you turn 18. This can help you get an idea about how much it might cost once you move out. You should also find out about any benefits you can claim once you turn 18 and are living independently.
If you are worried about what will happen then talk to a charity like Shelter to get some advice.
What if I leave care before I’m 18?
If you leave care before you turn 18 then social services will make sure you have somewhere to live. They have to give you somewhere to live until you are 18. This might be in a hostel, a children’s home or a self-contained flat. They may also help you find your own place to live.
You won’t be able to claim benefits like job seekers allowance if you are under 18. That means it’s really important that you contact social services to make sure you get the financial support that you need.
What’s it like to live on your own?
Living independently can be great. But it can also be scary and overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. If you are moving out on your own you will need to take care of your home. That means cleaning it, doing your washing and cooking for yourself.
You will also need to look after your money to make sure you can afford everything. As well as rent you will have to pay bills. You may be able to claim some benefits to help you with the cost of independent living. The local housing department will be able to tell you more about housing benefit.
Did you know?
-Almost half of people living in homeless accommodation services are aged 16 to 24
-65% of homeless young people are studying, employed or in an apprenticeship/work scheme
-The biggest cause of youth homelessness is being unable to continue living with parents or carers
Please be aware that this is NOT for emergency help. CLICK HERE for information on emergency help.