The Welsh Government has launched a campaign urging young people who are at risk of homelessness or already homeless to call a free Housing Advice Helpline run by Shelter Cymru and Llamau.
Now in its second year, the youth homelessness campaign highlights the problem of hidden homelessness amongst young people – raising awareness of the fact that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets.
Hidden homelessness most commonly takes the form of ‘sofa surfing’ at the house of friends or family, but can also include staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel or bed & breakfast, or somewhere that’s unsafe or unsuitable.
This phase of the campaign also focuses on people who may now be at risk of homelessness because of the pandemic; these people may have recently lost their jobs or are on furlough and, as a result, may be struggling to hold onto their homes.
As well as helping these people to recognise that they might be at risk of homelessness or already homeless, the campaign also advises their friends, family and work colleagues on how to spot the signs of hidden homelessness.
Anyone experiencing these issues is being asked to call the free Housing Advice Helpline, which is funded by the Welsh Government and run by Shelter Cymru, with out of hours support from Llamau.
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said:
"Coronavirus has forced many people to the brink of homelessness. Many young people will be struggling with these kind of issues for the first time; others may have been struggling before the pandemic hit.
"We have to also recognise that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets and there will be young people who have been sofa surfing with friends or family throughout this pandemic.
"Our message to these young people and those around them is to call the Housing Advice Helpline now. Expert trained advisors from Shelter Cymru and, out of hours, Llamau are on hand to talk you through these issues and advise you on what you can do – it’s never too late or too early to get help."
Ruth Power, CEO, Shelter Cymru said:
"Shelter Cymru welcomes this renewed commitment by the Welsh Government to tackle youth homelessness.
"All young people need a home where they can build a life, be safe and thrive, which is why it is so important that anyone who is currently homeless or at risk of homelessness is aware of their rights, and aware that they can come to us for help."
Frances Beecher, CEO, Llamau said:
"I would urge any young person who doesn’t know where they’ll be spending the night tonight, tomorrow, next week, to call us and get the advice and support they need. The pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues that were already leaving so many young people at the brink of homelessness and we are now seeing so many more young people without a safe place to call home. Homelessness isn’t just sleeping on the streets. Not knowing where you’ll be sleeping or staying with a friend or a friend of a friend is where homelessness begins.
"We know that many people’s first experiences of homelessness happens when they are young, so it is vital that we work to end youth homelessness in order to end homelessness as a whole. It’s so important that young people, and those who know them, seek support as soon as they need it."
Preventing youth homelessness is a long-standing priority for the Welsh Government. This is why, in addition to funding this helpline, £3.7m has been provided for earlier intervention and prevention of homelessness via the Youth Support Grant. – The Welsh Government is working with partners in the youth service to help identify young people at risk of homelessness and put suitable support in place.
For advice and support call the Housing Advice Helpline on 08000 495 495 or visit the Shelter Cymru website by going to www.sheltercymru.org.uk/hiddenhomelessness