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Campaign targets hidden homelessness

Welsh Government has launched a major new campaign to raise awareness that ‘Homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets’.

The campaign to tackle hidden homelessness is targeted at young people who may be at risk of or already experiencing homelessness and also advises the public on what to do if they are concerned about someone they know.

Research suggests people overwhelmingly connect homelessness only with rough sleeping – but that this is not the case for most young people experiencing homelessness.

The campaign points out that even if someone has a roof over their head, they can still be homeless. They could be sofa surfing at a friend’s place, or staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel, night shelter or bed and breakfast, or living in very poor conditions or somewhere that is not suitable for them or their family.

People are advised to look out for signs of hidden homelessness such as someone:

  • having difficulties with their relationships with their parents and close family members;
  • reluctant to go home – spending lots of their time outside; in public places that offer shelter and connection to wifi – for example train stations and cafes; staying late at their education setting or jobs;
  • keeping belongings with them and having problems with keeping clothes clean;
  • asking for help with money and using food banks;
  • who has lost their job;
  • experiencing physical or mental health problems.

Those experiencing hidden homelessness are also more likely to be at risk of exploitation – and especially young people.

The campaign aims to ensure that young people get the help and support they need as soon as possible, preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.

Housing Minister Julie James said: ‘Many people think homelessness is only about rough sleeping – it is not. Many young people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness don’t recognise themselves as homeless.

‘If you don’t have a place to call home it is likely that you are experiencing “hidden homelessness”.

‘We know young people often don’t know where to seek advice and support – so that’s why we’re launching this new campaign.

‘So if you think you’re experiencing hidden homelessness or you’re at risk of it then get help now. It’s never too late or too early to get help.’

Welsh Government funds Shelter Cymru to provide independent housing advice and support. The service also links people to partner organisations who can provide support services based on the needs of individuals.

Shelter Cymru Director Jon Puzey said: ‘We know the earlier and more often someone experiences homelessness, the more likely they are to develop complex issues that might mean they become homeless repeatedly throughout their adult life. That’s why it’s so important that we make it a priority to prevent youth homelessness.

‘It’s fantastic that the Welsh Government is taking this so seriously and helping us to reach more young people. With this joint campaign we are making sure that young people know that Shelter Cymru is here to help them.’

For advice and support people can call Shelter Cymru on 08000 495 495 or find out more at www.sheltercymru.org.uk/hiddenhomelessness



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