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04February

16 and Homeless

Written by Paula Charalambous Posted in Homelessness and Social Care

16 and Homeless

The thought of being locked out of one’s home and having nowhere to go is pretty scary. It’s even worse during all the cold weather we’ve been having.

People find it easy to ignore those who sleep rough on the streets, touting the passers-by for spare change. Often they think these people are responsible for their situation or if they are given money they will just abuse it, spending it on drugs or alcohol rather than food and shelter.

However, the reality is that these are quite often vulnerable young adults like you, who have found themselves on the street because of problems at home.

For example, Lisa*, a young person, had been found sleeping on a park bench. It was minus 9 and a blanket of snow lay everywhere. She was very cold, frightened and upset; she had never felt so vulnerable.

For Lisa, this was not the first time she had found herself locked out of her home. This was happening because Lisa’s weren't given a key to the house. On previous occasions she had managed to kip at friends’ houses but this time she was out of luck.

Thanks to the support of a youth worker and other support staff, Lisa was helped. She was found and taken to a warm home where she was able to get a good night’s sleep. Social services are now working with her and her family.

However, homelessness remains common among young people who can’t go home for whatever reason.

Sleeping on the streets makes you vulnerable to crime and abuse and increases the chances of things spiraling out of control. Ed Sheeran's music video for the song, the A Team, depicts this beautifully.

Getting Help

Many young people have difficult relationships with their parents, so sometimes you might think that it is preferable to leave home at 16 and live independently. But did you know that the average age for people leaving home is 24?

Lots of teenagers fall out with their parents but it’s nearly always better to stay at home until you are at least 18. Your parents are legally responsible for you until your 18th birthday, so they have a duty to look after you.

If your family is encountering problems, there are lots of different services available which can help you and your family stay together and sort out any difficulties you have.

These include:

  • Personal Advisers
  • Youth workers
  • Connexions Workers
  • Children’s Social Care
  • Young People Workers
  • Local Voluntary agencies
  • Housing
  • Friends and other family members.

Sometimes there are risks to you at home and you may feel you need to move out for your own safety. 

If so, Social Care will do an assessment and then see if they should be helping you find somewhere else to live. Once they have talked to you, they will discuss things with your parents/carers to find out what is happening at home, what the problem is and whether they can help with anything.

They will not do anything that will put you at risk and they will listen very carefully to what you have to say.

Sometimes it is possible to stay with a relative and they will talk to you about that too.

What happens if you can’t go home?

If you really can’t go home and there is no one in your family who can help, you can talk to a TCHC adviser about getting support from your local authority. This is also called being 'accommodated' under Section 20 of the Children Act, 1989.You can request this yourself.

It does not take away your parents’ responsibilities for you but you will be safe and your needs will be adhered to. They will help you find somewhere to live and also assist you through education, training or employment.

*Lisa is not her real name but has been used to protect the young person’s identity.

About the Author

Paula Charalambous

Paula Charalambous

Paula Charalambous is a personal adviser for TCHC. She has worked with young people aged 13-18 for over 15 years. She started off as a youth worker helping young people to set up their own youth clubs and supporting them in their communities.

She has worked for over 10 years in Education as lead Pastoral Carer, helping excluded pupils, offenders and young people with behavioural issues achieve.

She is known for her great behaviour management skills, her ability to work with all young people in a non-judgemental way and being dedicated to helping them to achieve their goals.

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