The national voice of youth homelessness

Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - 5:20am

"Homelessness is degrading, embarrassing and lonely. We want our voices to be heard so more young people can get the help they need when they find themselves homeless."

The experience of being homeless has a major impact on young people. Until you’ve lived through it, it can be very difficult to understand how it feels and what the consequences are later on in life. Homelessness is degrading, embarrassing and lonely. You feel helpless as it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and you're just blurred by this big homeless cloud hanging above you.

There are many different types of homelessness – such as sofa surfing, bed hopping and rough sleeping – which we have all experienced in one form or another. They all have their risks and it affects your mental health, self-esteem and values.

That’s why it’s important that we put our first-hand experience to positive use and make sure our voices influence decision makers and make them act on our advice.

The National Youth Reference Group (NYRG) is made up of young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. Our group helps national and local government involve young people more in their work.  Ultimately we want our voices to be heard so more young people can get the help they need when they find themselves homeless.

Young people don’t get the help they need early enough. Although there are people and organisations in place to intervene when young people are kicked out of home it is often too late.

We have been working with Homeless Link on their youth homelessness research for the past four years. For us it’s important to understand the national picture of youth homelessness to help develop recommendations to prevent more young people from having nowhere to live.

This year the research highlighted a number of things to us. Affordable housing for young people is very limited, there is no social housing in many areas and the private rented sector is too expensive. This is why we think letting agency fees should be banned and rents should be set more in line with local wages.

Young people don’t get the help they need early enough. Although there are people and organisations in place to intervene when young people are kicked out of home it is often too late. We think that schools and colleges should carry out more work on educating people about homelessness and work with homelessness services to deliver mediation and other prevention models.

Mental health issues are also a big problem for young people. When someone is homeless or at risk of homelessness they are often ignored or not treated properly and it currently takes too long to access mental health services and receive counselling when people often need help straight away.

More can be done to address and reduce youth homelessness. By listening to us you can provide better resources and practical solutions to young people in your area.

Young and homeless 2015

Our fifth annual Young & Homeless report explores the reasons young people became homeless in 2015, the support available to them, and areas that need to be improved.

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National Youth Reference Group (NYRG)

The NYRG is made up of young people aged 16-25 from across England who are homeless/have experienced homelessness.  The group exists to assist National and Local Government, Local Authorities and organisations to develop and improve their involvement opportunities for young people.