A charity has warned that tens of thousands of young people in England will be homeless or at risk of homelessness this Christmas.
Drawing on Freedom of Information data, the homelessness charity Centrepoint estimated that 22,000 under-25s approached a council for help with accommodation during October, November and December 2018.
This is only ‘part of the picture’, the charity warned.
Many people who do not have a stable place to live do not appear in these figures because they are ‘hidden’. This means they may be staying on a friend’s sofa or sleeping on a night bus and not reporting to their local authority.
Homelessness of all kinds has increased over the past 10 years, with over 60,000 households officially accepted as homeless or at risk of homelessness in October to December 2018.
Rough sleeping has more than doubled in the last decade and there are more than 120,000 children across the UK who are living and growing up in temporary and insecure accommodation.
Centrepoint identified family breakdown as a major driver of youth homelessness. An estimated 52% of 16-25s presenting as homeless last year did so due to parents or others not willing to accommodate them.
Just over 70% were forced to sofa-surf because they had nowhere else to stay and 50% said this had a negative impact on their friendships.
Nearly 30% said they felt pressured to drink alcohol while homeless and 26% said they felt pressured to take drugs. Sixty-eight percent said they felt unsafe and 67% reported feeling lonely.
‘Every young person going through homelessness will have their own experiences and story to tell,’ wrote policy and research officer Billy Harding.
‘This research has highlights just some of what homeless young people are facing right now – from impacts on their mental and physical health, to difficulties accessing education and employment and having to make impossible choices simply for a place to stay.
‘That’s why Centrepoint has launched our Christmas appeal, to ensure that we are doing all we can to best support those young people experiencing homelessness now, and so we can campaign to end youth homelessness across the country.’