ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

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Leaving care shouldn’t mean facing homelessness

Young people leaving care are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society - over 62% of looked after children were taken into care due to abuse or neglect. Leaving care is a key moment in these young people’s lives, and events at this stage in their life will have a lasting impact.

Earlier this year we conducted some research at Centrepoint that led to some shocking findings. It showed that when young people leave care, they can feel alone, vulnerable and spiral back into homelessness. We need to do more to support young people at this important time in their lives to ensure it doesn’t all fall apart. So we published a report called From Care to Where.

We are proud of our research, because it gave us vital data to prove that young people aren’t getting what they need. And importantly, it shows us where we are needed most.

Where does it go wrong?

Without a safe and secure home, or adequate support to help them, care leavers may struggle to gain their independence. Leaving care often means young people face huge challenges and could find themselves at risk of homelessness. These challenges include:

• Being unprepared to manage finances, especially bills
• Not having enough income to pay rent, which is particularly tricky in the private rented sector
• Moving to a new area, especially if they were placed out of their borough while they were in care
• Having less support from the local authority, as care leavers have a personal advisor rather than a social worker who they will see less frequently
• Loneliness and isolation
• Feeling unsafe in their local area and their home
• Losing their tenancy and facing homelessness

Our research for the report was based on detailed interviews with care leavers, local authority leaving care practitioners, a nation-wide survey of 87 care leavers and 99 local authority practitioners.

Like everything we do at Centrepoint, the numbers count – they drive our work. If we didn’t do the research and analyse the data, we wouldn’t know that 26% of care leavers surveyed for the report have sofa surfed and 14% have slept rough. We wouldn’t know to recommend that the Government change homelessness legislation so that all care leavers under 25 are seen as a priority group eligible for help with homelessness, for example.

We just wouldn’t know what to fight for and how.

As a Centrepoint supporter, you deserve to know the numbers. We know you care about each and every young person experiencing homelessness and you want to know how, together, we can help.

One of the ways your support helps care leavers is with mentoring. Centrepoint mentors work with young people on a one-to-one basis for one year, tailoring their support to the young person’s needs and ambitions. People like Emily:

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"Having a mentor has been so important; it’s a really useful thing for care leavers to have. The mentor I have now has been helping me to move on from supported accommodation and prepare for my own council tenancy. A mentor will also work with me when I move in a few weeks, so that I have help with my finances and paying rent."

Your support also helps care leavers through Supported Accommodation. Centrepoint has high support services across the country that house young care leavers. Each young person has a key worker who works with them to develop their independent living skills, ready for a more independent life.

Through our report, we’ve made recommendations to government, but we need to do more in the meantime. We need to grow our services to make sure no care leaver ever experiences homelessness.

Read the report here: www.centrepoint.org.uk/careleavers