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Campaign targets hidden youth homelessness

Welsh Government has launched a campaign urging young people who are at risk of homelessness or already homeless to call a free Housing Advice Helpline run by Shelter Cymru and Llamau.

Now in its second year, the youth homelessness campaign highlights the problem of hidden homelessness amongst young people – raising awareness of the fact that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets.

Hidden homelessness most commonly takes the form of ‘sofa surfing’ but can also include staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel or bed and breakfast, or somewhere that’s unsafe or unsuitable.

This phase of the campaign also focuses on people who may now be at risk of homelessness because of the pandemic – people who have recently lost their jobs or are on furlough and, as a result, may be struggling to hold onto their homes.

As well as helping these people to recognise that they might be at risk of homelessness or already homeless, the campaign also advises their friends, family and work colleagues on how to spot the signs of hidden homelessness.

Anyone experiencing these issues is being asked to call the free Housing Advice Helpline, which is funded by the Welsh Government and run by Shelter Cymru, with out of hours support from Llamau.

Housing minister Julie James said:

‘Coronavirus has forced many people to the brink of homelessness. Many young people will be struggling with these kind of issues for the first time; others may have been struggling before the pandemic hit.

‘We have to also recognise that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets and there will be young people who have been sofa surfing with friends or family throughout this pandemic.

‘Our message to these young people and those around them is to call the Housing Advice Helpline now. Expert trained advisors from Shelter Cymru and, out of hours, Llamau are on hand to talk you through these issues and advise you on what you can do – it’s never too late or too early to get help.’

Ruth Power, chief executive of Shelter Cymru, said:

‘Shelter Cymru welcomes this renewed commitment by the Welsh Government to tackle youth homelessness.

‘All young people need a home where they can build a life, be safe and thrive, which is why it is so important that anyone who is currently homeless or at risk of homelessness is aware of their rights, and aware that they can come to us for help.’

Frances Beecher, CEO, Llamau said:

‘I would urge any young person who doesn’t know where they’ll be spending the night tonight, tomorrow, next week, to call us and get the advice and support they need. The pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues that were already leaving so many young people at the brink of homelessness and we are now seeing so many more young people without a safe place to call home. Homelessness isn’t just sleeping on the streets. Not knowing where you’ll be sleeping or staying with a friend or a friend of a friend is where homelessness begins.

‘We know that many people’s first experiences of homelessness happens when they are young, so it is vital that we work to end youth homelessness in order to end homelessness as a whole. It’s so important that young people, and those who know them, seek support as soon as they need it.’

For advice and support call the Housing Advice Helpline on 08000 495 495 or visit the Shelter Cymru website by going to www.sheltercymru.org.uk/hiddenhomelessness


People often think rough sleeping is the only form of homelessness because it is the most visible, but rough sleeping is just the tip of the iceberg and many more people are experiencing what is known as hidden homeless, says Abigail from Shelter Cymru.

This could be sleeping on the sofa at friends or relative’s house, living in overcrowded accommodation, living in housing which is in disrepair or unsuitable for them or their families. The signs of hidden homelessness could be if someone you know has just split up with their partner, or their relationship with their family members has broken down, they could be struggling with their finances, paying their rent or not wanting to stay where they are staying. Someone who seems like they never go home, may have nowhere to go and during Covid-19 finding even temporary places to stay safely has become much more difficult.

Every situation is different and it is not always obvious to someone that they are experiencing homelessness. We work with people to help them understand what their rights are and even though they’re not sleeping on the streets they are technically homeless.’

That’s why it’s so important that people get in touch with us; look at the website, call our Housing Advice Helpline and speak to someone from Shelter or Llamau, and we’ll support you every step of the way to improve your housing situation. One key thing is that it’s never too late or too early to get help, so just reach out.

We’ve been a continuous service since day one of lockdown in March 2020, so we’ve always been there throughout this whole time and I know that a lot of people have been appreciative of that. It’s been a very busy year but there is always the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve got a system that wants to help people, we don’t want people to feel like there isn’t any hope out there. There is 100% hope, people need a home to build their lives and that’s a really important message. There is hope by calling us, we’ll give you some confidence that this situation isn’t going to be a long-lasting one.


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