Being homeless is terrifying, daunting, and dangerous. People become homeless for a multitude of different reasons and homelessness can take on many different forms. However, whilst homelessness is devasting, it is also preventable. Every young person should be able to have a safe space to call home and we work to make sure that this is the case. With rural homelessness rising at an alarming rate, our work is more important than ever.
What is homelessness?
Being homeless is not as clearly defined as most people believe. When people think of homelessness, they think of rough sleeping. Whilst that is one key part, there are other types that are just as dangerous and important to prevent.
ROUGH SLEEPING This is the most visible form of homelessness and is when somebody is sleeping on the streets
STATUTORY HOMELESSNESS This is when the local authority has a duty of care to house people that are unintentionally homeless and are in a priority category (due to dependents, a disability or are domestic violence victims)
HIDDEN HOMELESSNESS This is when people are sofa surfing, staying with different friends or family members or just moving around without a fixed address, such as staying in hostels and B&Bs
What are the causes of homelessness?
There are many varied reasons and situations that can lead to someone becoming homeless and it is often not as simple as it may seem.
FAMILY BREAKDOWN An unstable family environment, parents divorcing or being evicted may lead to a young person wanting or having to leave home without a new base in place
ABUSE Being abused by family members, a partner or bullied at school may also lead to a young person leaving home
DRUG & ALCOHOL ISSUES If a young person has issues with drugs, alcohol, or other substances, this may lead them being forced to move out by their caretakers
LEAVING CARE People that have been in care have often experienced traumatic issues and feel like they can only rely on themselves, so in some cases they end up homeless once they leave care
REFUGEES Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people who have fled their own country due war or persecution are often more likely to end up homeless, as they are lacking the support of a family network
MENTAL HEALTH Many young people who are at risk of becoming homeless also suffer from mental health issues or more complex needs, which leaves them at higher risk due to more complicated needs that their family cannot support and lacking services from local government
Why does rural homelessness need support?
A recent report has said that the number of homeless people in rural England has “risen by 21% since 2018, with the highest numbers found in the East of England and the South West” (Sky News, 2023). Whilst people would typically associate homelessness as an issue that is rifer in more urbanised areas, this is due to people associating homelessness as rough sleeping only and forgetting the other types of hidden homelessness that there are.
Rural areas, such as those here in the East of England, mean that people are at a higher risk of homelessness due to “high housing costs, low wages and lack of specialist support services and restrictions in local authority funding.” (University of Southampton, 2023). It was also found that “rural areas receive 65% less funding per capita than urban for homelessness prevention who themselves are severely underfunded.” (University of Kent, 2023).
In rural areas, it is harder for services to provide support to people as there are bigger barriers in the way than in more urbanised areas, such as poor transport links, a larger distance in between services and more which means that it is easier for people to fall through the gaps of government help, help that is already more under-funded than services in more urbanised areas. This is why there is a need for additional support services for these at-risk young people in more rural areas.
What help do we provide?
Centrepoint figures suggest that in 2021/22 there was 129,000 16–24-year-olds that were homeless or at risk of homelessness and our figures estimate that there is between 3-4,000 in Norfolk and Suffolk. Centrepoint also found that only 68% of these were offered support by local authorities. This shows that many young people are falling through the cracks and are missing the support that they deserve from the local authorities. We work to help as many young people as possible in Norfolk and Suffolk and we currently accommodate around 250 young people a night, which equates to over 70,000 safe nights a year (as of 2023). There is more we can do, but we need your support to help provide even more safe nights to more young people at risk.