Schools asked to look out for signs of youth homelessness

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Research highlighting the potential warning signs of youth homelessness has been published in a bid to help those working in schools to spot students at risk.

The charity Centrepoint is urging schools to direct vulnerable young people to its support services if they are worried – including its new telephone helpline.

Long absences from school and students who do not complete their exams are two of the most common identifiers of youth homelessness.

Research surveys involving more than 600 young people aged 16 to 25 who have experienced homelessness found that half had been absent from school for long periods due to problems at home.

Half were also unable to finish their exams or coursework because of problems in their personal lives, while almost one-third said they had never felt settled as they moved from school to school during their childhood.

Centrepoint is a homelessness charity that supports more than 9,000 young people a year. It provides temporary accommodation and support services in the North of England and London as well as a new free telephone helpline.

The Centrepoint research also found that 58 per cent of young people who had experienced homelessness had encountered violence at home.

Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin said: “Sadly, homelessness forces independence on young people regardless of whether they’re ready. Centrepoint provides tailored support in a range of areas to give young people the skills to live and work independently. This group have bags of potential, but a disrupted education leads to jobs with no security and the ramifications if they lose that job can be devastating. It’s a brutal cycle that keeps young people perpetually at risk of homelessness.”

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, is supporting the charity’s call: “Teachers are on the frontline when it comes to supporting their students through education and are in a unique position to notice changes in behaviour.

“Exam periods, in particular, can be immensely stressful, and this is all too easily exacerbated by the difficult home lives of many young people.”

  • The free Centrepoint Helpline is for any young person aged 16 to 25 who is worried about homelessness. It is 0808 800 0661 and open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Visit www.centrepoint.org.uk


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