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National Homeless Advice Service

Advice and referrals: connecting with appropriate services

There is no single model for the delivery of housing support services across local authorities. Young people and their families and advisers will therefore encounter different ways to access help and advice.

Overcoming barriers to access

Young people and their families may need support to access services provided to prevent homelessness, or help in a crisis, or to find emergency accommodation.

This will be particularly relevant in local authorities where there is a lack of joined-up services. A homeless young person may try to access services, only to be passed from one department to another. They may also find that their local authority’s housing advice and support may not be specifically targeted at young people, and front line staff may be less aware of how to deal with a young person in housing crisis.

Young people who are approaching their local authority for housing help should be helped to provide as much information as possible in support of their application. For more information, see the section Applying as homeless.

Advisers of young people aged 16 and 17 should also be aware of local authority housing duties to 16 and 17 year olds.

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Housing support through single point of access/gateways

In many local authorities, housing-related support can be accessed through a gateway or single point of access. This will include emergency services for all homeless people and services to support young people aged 16 to 25 in housing need. A number of agencies will make referrals to this single service, which will assess clients’ needs, identify a support package, and then direct them on to the most appropriate service.

Gateways can be run by local authorities, by a single commissioned provider, or shared among a group of service providers.

Example - Bath and North East Somerset: Housing Support Gateway

Some single access points will be aimed specifically at young people, while some may also or only be used for certain client groups such as those with substance abuse problems, adults with disabilities, or ex-offenders.

Example - Dorset Probation Trust: gateway for ex-offenders

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Services delivered by commissioned partners

Other service providers can use different models of delivery of advice and support services to young people facing homelessness, for example making use of peer advisers or peer support.

Good practice - St Basils and Birmingham City Council Youth Hub

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One-stop shops

Local authority one-stop shops will deal with housing and homelessness as well as most other councils services - more detailed information would be on their websites.

Example - Wirral One-Stop Shops

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Housing options

Many local authorities have dedicated housing options services. These may be dispersed across local areas, but will usually also have information online, and available in different formats such as community languages and Braille. Some housing options services will offer online applications for housing information and advice, although most homelessness applications must be made in person, and most young people will also require assessments in person.

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Accessing housing support through voluntary organisations

Young people can also access housing-related support and advice through independent organisations.

Example - Roundabout

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