If you’re under 18, children’s services at your local council have a legal duty to make sure you have somewhere safe to live. You might be feeling very scared and alone if you’re facing homelessness. However, there are people to help you and you should not be left without anywhere to stay if you are under 18 and homeless.
On this page, we’ll cover the following topics and questions and tell you about the support that’s available out there. Contact the Centrepoint Helpline if you would like to talk this through.
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How do I contact children's services?
What kind of support will children’s services give me?
What can I do if children's services aren't helping me find somewhere to live?
What can I do if I don't feel safe at home?
Can children’s services make me go back home?
Can I get a flat of my own?
What other organisations can help me?
If you are homeless, or at risk of being homeless, contact children’s services at your local council as soon as you can. They have a legal duty to make sure you have somewhere safe to live.
You don’t have to be sleeping rough to be homeless. You might be sofa surfing or staying with another family.
Find your local council by entering your postcode and ask to be put through to children’s services.
It might feel scary to contact children’s services, but they are there to protect you. If you’re at school or college, you could speak to a teacher or another adult you trust who could contact the council on your behalf.
You could also make a homeless application. You’ll need to speak to the housing team at your local council to do this. It’s likely they will refer you back to children’s services, so it’s quicker to go direct as this department is set up to help people who are 16 and 17.
The council shouldn’t make you go back and forth between housing and social service so if you feel this is happening to you, you can contact our Helpline for advice.
If you urgently need accommodation after 5pm or before 9am, Monday to Friday, call the out of hours emergency number at the local council. Every council has one.
Children’s services will make a ‘child in need’ assessment to find out what support to give you, including somewhere to live.
If you’re homeless, you’ll usually be classed a child in need. That means you’re eligible for housing support. That might be:
- Offering family mediation to help improve relationships at home
- Arranging for you to live with another family member
- Finding you emergency accommodation
- Looking at options like living with a foster family or supported housing.
You can read more about child in need assessments on the Shelter website.
If you don’t accept help from children’s services, there’s a danger you might end up homeless. Also, accepting help from children’s services can help protect your future, as it may mean that they have to support you until you are 25.
If you want help from children’s services and feel they are not listening to you or helping, you can speak to an advocacy service. This is an organisation that works to make sure that young people get the support they are entitled to.
You can also contact the Centrepoint Helpline to talk through your next steps.
If you’re under 18, and are experiencing violence, abuse or threats where you are living, contact children’s services at your local council as soon as you can. If you are at school or college, speak to a teacher or trusted adult who can contact the council on your behalf.
If you’re in immediate danger, please call 999.
If you are worried that someone is checking the calls and messages on your phone, you can use a web chat. That means no-one can see the conversation after it’s ended.
Childline also has some helpful advice if you’re worried that someone will see which websites you’ve visited.
Children’s Services can’t force you to go back to somewhere you do not feel safe.
If you don’t agree with the decision that children’s services makes, contact one of the organisations listed below to get help and legal advice.
You can also contact the Centrepoint Helpline.
If you’re under 18, it’s unlikely you will be able to find a landlord to rent a property to you. You would potentially need to ask a family member to sign the tenancy agreement for you, but this would be unlikely until you have a steady income.
If you are under 18 and need some support to get the help you’re entitled to, you can get independent advice from an advocacy service. An advocate can help to explain your wishes and argue your case.
You can also contact:
Barnardo’s has specialist advocacy services for young people.
Visit the Barnardo's website to find a local advocacy service.
Coram Voice (if you're in London)
If you don’t agree with the decision from children’s services, Coram Voice can help you challenge it.
Childline offers free and confidential advice for under 18s. They can help you think about your options and talk through the support available.
Children's Commissioner - Help at Hand
This service offers advice and assistance for children:
- In care
- Who have a social worker
- Are working with social services
- Living away from home.
Just for Kids Law
They work with and for young people to ensure their legal rights are respected.
Call: 0808 800 4444 (free helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends)
Vist the Shelter website for information about being 16 or 17 and homeless.