19 Nov 2014

Half seeking help with homelessness are under 25

News Correspondent

Not only is homelessness on the rise, it is getting worse for young people – and they are not always getting the help they need. Symeon Brown speaks to one woman forced to sleep in the woods.

The memories of our youth usually revolve around remembering our “first times”. Do you remember the first music album you bought, the first time you went to a festival or even the first time you stayed out all night without telling your parents?

What about the first night you slept in a doorway because you had no family or friends to rely on, tipping you into a spiral of homelessness?

New figures from homelessness charities are warning that not only is homelessness rising, but it is becoming a worrying trend for young people under the age of 25.

The charity Homeless Link has published figures showing that 52 per cent of those seeking help with homelessness are young people. Even more worryingly, when those young people sought help from local councils, only one in five cases could be helped.

Far too many young people are being affected by homelessness. Rick Henderson from Homeless Link

However sleeping rough is not the only form of homelessness. The problem can often be hidden: for example many homeless people may “sofa surf”, but due to the instability of this it is often a matter of time before their situation can escalate.

Six in 10 young people became homeless when a family or friend was no longer to put them up, the charity found.

Denise Hatton from the YMCA said: “The majority of young people become homeless after their families are no longer able to accommodate them or due to relationship breakdown.

“If more was done to tackle these problems at the outset then councils could significantly reduce the number of young people facing the uncertainty of sofa surfing or nights on the streets.”

Housing crisis

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter said it has seen a 28 per cent increase in calls from people on the brink of homelessness since 2012 – a sign of the struggles of people at the very sharp end of the UK’s housing crisis.

Homelessness minister Kris Hopkins said the government is giving £10 million to Shelter and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to run the national homelessness advice service, which supports frontline staff working with homeless people.

Watch: 'life sentence' for homeless families trapped in B&Bs

He said this is “part of increased spending to prevent homelessness”.

He added: “Since 2010, this government has delivered more than 200,000 affordable homes across England, with plans for more investment that will lead to the fastest rate of affordable house building for two decades. Rents have fallen every year since 2010 in real terms across the country, while house building levels are now at their highest since 2007.”