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New support strategy for youth homelessness in Lincolnshire

A new strategy launched in Lincolnshire aims to tackle youth homelessness and give under 25s with housing difficulties more support.

Launched on March 6 in Lincoln, the Lincolnshire Youth Housing Strategy 2013-2018 looks at the issues facing young people and youth housing in the county, and how it aims to tackle the issues.

The most common reason for youth homelessness in Lincolnshire is parental, friends or other family eviction, followed by loss of private rented accommodation and relationship breakdowns.

According to data, 2,399 young people approached children’s services or district housing authorities in 2011/12, with 18% of the figure being repeat approaches.

In addition, 139 of those young people aged 16 and 17 approached district housing authorities as homeless or at risk of homelessness and also sought assistance from Children’s Services.

The most common outcome for these youngsters was to only be offered advice, or that an organisation would lose contact before the likes of social housing could be offered.

Working alongside a number of charities, local councils and organisations, the strategy outlines that it will provide the right advice and support for young people, better early intervention to avoid homelessness, ensure more sufficient and suitable accommodation for youngsters and provide long term solutions for those who have been homeless or want to leave care.

Phil Taylor, Lincolnshire Youth Housing Co-ordinator, said: “The Lincolnshire Youth Housing Strategy sets out our vision for improving and delivering youth housing over the next five years.

“One of the first actions we’ve delivered so far from the strategy is the initial help and advice someone can get, so we’ve created a single front door for a young person to go and get advice and support — at the moment that’s through district council’s housing teams.

“We’ve also put other services in the background to support that process too, so there’s other teams that can get involved and offer additional support. That housing team can then signpost that individual to the different services we offer, which helps make sure services there to help are used.

“The goal and challenge for us is to provide accommodation to someone in need immediately.

“We want to end homelessness completely, end the provision of unsuitable accommodation too and ensure accommodation we commission have clear processes to get young people into the right housing quickly.

“We work in partnership with a range of local charities. There’s a lot of charities in the county which work with young people, and our close relationship with them is key. We get these partners involved straight away [when someone needs help]. Those partners bring added input from their own experience and funding.”

He added: “My advice to young people facing a housing situation is to get in there early and seek advice from the services available. Both the housing teams and charities will happily take a young person in and have an initial chat to start signposting them, because all the partners work together to help send people the right way.”

Melissa is a young person who understands what it is like to suddenly become homeless. She now lives in shared accommodation and acts as a public speaker for homeless charity Framework.

She said: “I chose to leave home because of serious issues within the family, for everyone’s safety as well as my own. I was staying at friends’ houses and ‘sofa surfing’ a lot, but one day I got kicked out of someone’s house because I couldn’t pay them any money. That’s how I ended up sleeping on the streets.

“Though Framework Outreach came and found me at about 6.30 in the morning, and ask me to meet them later on so they could learn more about me and try and get me an interview for support. In the interview I was asked about my income, if I was in any education, training or work placements, then they assessed my needs and got me into shared housing. 

“Shared housing is absolutely brilliant. We have ups and downs but it’s better. I can’t say [working towards this] was easy, it was difficult. You have to go through job interview processes, learn about money management, then once you start paying rent, you’re sorted.”