One of the most basic human rights is for somewhere safe and stable to live, yet homelessness continues to be one of the worst social problems in Britain today.
Barnardo's works with homeless families as well as young people who are homeless or living in insecure accommodation. We help young people to access the right accommodation and support them in their tenancies, and for some young people, such as young care leavers, we actually provide supported accommodation. Our outreach teams on the streets actively look for homeless young people and provide a friendly ear as well as referring them to relevant agencies.
We work with families to help them secure the benefits and grants they are legally entitled to, sorting out accommodation problems and helping families to get re-housed in the area so as to not to disrupt children's education.
Care leavers and housing issues facts
Housing has been shown to be one of the most critical components of leaving care services for achieving positive outcomes for care leavers.
- According to the Who Cares? Trust, 30% of those who are homeless had been in care at some point in their lives.
- According to the DfE, 11% of care leavers in England live in ‘unsuitable accommodation’ upon leaving care.
- According to social services staff in Northern Ireland, 95% of care leavers aged 19 with whom they had contact were living in suitable accommodation, 3 percentage points higher than in 2009/10.
- In 2011/12, 2332 homeless applicants in Scotland had a household member who had been looked after.
We believe that care leavers in England need support for longer and are calling for the age of support to be raised from 21 to 25 for all care leavers. Currently care leavers are supported by local authority appointed personal advisers until they are 21 unless they are in education or training where they can seek advice relating specifically to education or training until they are 25.
This seems paradoxical as it is those who are not in education or training who potentially are more in need of support. Outcomes for care leavers are significantly lower than other groups of young people – they are much more likely to go to prison, to be homeless, to commit suicide and to suffer from physical and mental problems. As the ‘corporate parents’, the state must take responsible for these young people and support them to become independent and productive members of society.
This is why Barnardo's is part of a care leavers coalition, alongside six other leading leaving care charities, who have come together to call on the Government to change the law and reform the system to help support care leavers better and for longer.