Being a young rough sleeper can be isolating and devastating. Taking the time to support a young person could help them access services that could change their life. Here, you will find guidance on what to do, whether you’ve seen someone locally who is homeless, or you know the young person personally.
On this page, we’ll cover the following topics and questions and tell you about the support that’s available out there.
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I've seen a young person sleeping rough. How can I help?
Stop and talk
You might want to think about just stopping to talk to the young person. You might be the first person they have spoken to for ages. A quick chat could make all the difference.
StreetLink connects people who are sleeping rough with local services that can help them.
You’ll need to describe:
- What the person looks like
- What they’re wearing
- Where they are sleeping.
StreetLink will send this information to outreach teams in the local area. Outreach workers will go out to try to find anyone who is on their list and connect them with support.
StreetLink can only help adults. If you believe the person sleeping rough is under 18, please call 999.
Offer phone credit or a travel card
Many homeless young people will have a phone but may not have credit. This makes things harder. For example, they can’t call a day centre or helpline. They may also find it difficult to get to that support because they don’t have money for travel. If you’re able to, loading someone’s phone credit or travel card could make a massive difference.
If someone appears to be in immediate danger or seems unwell, please call 999.
It takes a lot for a young person to share their situation with you. Having a trusted friend there for support can be a real lifeline.
You can support them by:
- Communicating their situation to the local council and helping them to make a homeless application
- Making calls and attending appointments with them
- Helping them to complete forms, like benefits applications or applying for a bank account
- Advocating on their behalf – where you’re able to and if they want you to
- Helping them to find a day centre
- Contacting the Centrepoint Helpline to talk through how you can help them.
It can be very worrying if there are difficulties at home and your child can no longer live there. There are organisations that can advise and support you and your child on what to do next.
If you need your child to move out, it will take time to plan what to do.
If your child is over 18
If they’re over 18, they can make a homeless application at your local council.
Just because your child can’t stay with you doesn’t mean the council will provide them with housing. Councils can only offer accommodation to people who are eligible, homeless and in priority need. That might be if they have physical or mental health issues or are at risk of violence.
Even if they don’t get housing, they could get a personal housing plan and access to advice and guidance to find a home.
It’s important to start the process as soon as possible. In England, your local council has a duty to help someone who won’t have a home in the next eight weeks. They don't have to be homeless to approach the council for help.
The council will ask your child why they can’t go home, and may want to speak to you. They may also suggest family mediation to help improve relationships at home.
If your child is under 18
If your child is under 18, they’re a child in the eyes of the law. Children’s services at your local council has a legal duty to support them.
Children’s services may offer family mediation to help improve relationships at home or look for another family member they can live with.
If there is no one who can act as a parent, then the council should provide them with somewhere to live. This may be in a hostel or with foster carers. They might also be placed in a place which provides learning and accommodation for young people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
No, your local council needs to refer them to us. The young person will need to have made a homeless application with the council. This is how the council decides if they will provide any accommodation or support.
To get a place in a Centrepoint hostel, a young person needs a local connection to an area where we have accommodation.
Local councils offer different types of accommodation to young people who are homeless. We can’t guarantee they will get referred to Centrepoint.
Help them make a homeless application
The first step would be for them to make a homeless application at their local council. You can support someone to do this by helping them gather together the documents they will need, attending appointments with them, or simply providing moral support.
Day centres are safe, warm places to go during the day. They usually offer showers, hot meals and somewhere to charge a phone and use the internet.
They often have advisors available, who may be able to refer the young person to somewhere to stay, like a hostel or night shelter. They might also be able to help them access benefits or mental health support.
You can find out about local day centres by contacting the Centrepoint Helpline.
Help them find legal advice
The young person may also need to get legal advice. You can search for your nearest law centre here.
Help them access benefits
If a young person is homeless, it’s likely they will be eligible for benefits, like Universal Credit. It can be daunting to apply for them, so you could research what they’re eligible for and help them complete the application.