‘This is spiralling’: alarm as youth homelessness soars in UK since Christmas

Estimated read time 4 min read

Charities have issued a warning about a significant increase in the population of homeless youth in the UK following the Christmas season.

The New Horizon Youth Centre in London reported a surge in requests for assistance from young people during the first week of January. Akt, a charity that aids homeless LGBTQ+ youth, also noted a higher number of referrals than usual for the month. Roundabout in Sheffield and YMCA Trinity, which serve Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, respectively, also experienced an increase in activity.

A group of 120 charitable organizations has formed a coalition called #PlanForThe136k. This refers to an approximation that 136,000 young individuals were without a home in 2023. They are urging the government to develop a nationwide plan to eliminate youth homelessness. The coalition is encouraging individuals to sign a petition to compel a response from government officials.

According to a study conducted by the non-profit organization Centrepoint, approximately 135,800 youth sought help from their local government as they were homeless in 2022-23. Additionally, Shelter reported last month that they anticipate an additional 40,000 people of all age groups to be without a home during the holiday season. However, there is concern over the increasing number of individuals facing homelessness since these findings were released.

Phil Kerry, the CEO of the New Horizon centre, stated that the situation is quickly escalating. He also mentioned that their center is the only available space for homeless individuals under 25 in London. As of the beginning of last week, 142 people had already visited the centre, which is significantly higher than the average of 63 per week.

A ewoman pins a notice onto a wall board with a large notice above it saying “JET - Jobs, Education Training”

“On January 4th, when we resumed operations, there were 76 young individuals seeking assistance,” Kerry shared. “One individual was even waiting outside with a wet sleeping bag. The demand for help has reached unprecedented levels and our resources are limited.”

According to the speaker, young individuals who experience homelessness typically have fewer means due to the fact that individuals under 23 receive a lower minimum wage and those under 25 receive reduced benefit payments.

Hayley Speed, a representative from Akt, reported that the organization has experienced a significant increase in demand for its specialized services for homeless youth who identify as LBGTQ+.

She stated that our London referrals had a higher number of requests in the first week of January compared to our typical monthly amount. It was twice as much as our average for a week.

According to Ben Keegan, the chief executive, Roundabout’s Sheffield center in South Yorkshire experienced its highest levels of activity.

“We have acquired previously used student housing in order to assist in meeting the continuously increasing demand from young individuals facing urgent housing needs in our area,” stated Keegan. This increase compounds with a 21% rise in the number of homeless youth from last year, reaching a total of 1,876.

YMCA Trinity provides support to youth in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and Suffolk. Its chief executive, Jon Martin, stated that there is a growing need for their youth housing services in the region. This is partly due to young individuals leaving the care system or facing homelessness as a result of family issues or difficult living situations. Additionally, the lack of affordable housing options, particularly for those starting out, has also contributed to the demand.

“We are receiving individuals with ever-growing and intricate needs, such as mental health concerns, negative childhood experiences, and trauma.”

According to Kate Polson, the CEO of Rock Trust, a charity that focuses on youth homelessness in Scotland, young people face a unique set of challenges. They are at a higher risk of being employed in unstable, low-paying jobs and often lack financial stability and professional references. In order to effectively tackle youth homelessness, we must address these issues.

A representative from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities stated, “Every individual should have access to a secure and suitable home. In the past decade, we have provided more than 684,800 new affordable housing options. Additionally, we are investing £1 billion to address homelessness.”

Source: theguardian.com

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