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National Homeless Advice Service

Identifying risk factors: early prevention services

Many young people who become homeless are already known to local authority services and their commissioned partners.

This page looks at common risk factors associated with homelessness, which services will be first to deal with young people, and how best these services can work together to identify young people at risk, and work to intervene early and prevent later homelessness.

Risk factors and background to becoming homeless

Many young homeless people will have experienced disruption and disadvantage in their childhoods. Homeless young people are more likely to have:

  • seen or experienced domestic abuse or violence in the family home
  • experienced poverty in their families (such as long-term unemployed parents)
  • an unsettled housing history (for example, had lived in a household that was made homeless or had to move frequently)
  • spent some time in care
  • run away from home
  • been involved in anti-social behaviour or crime
  • disengaged from school and been suspended or excluded.

These young people may therefore already be known to one or more agencies and services of their local authority, and long before crisis point is reached, work can be done on early intervention and prevention. These services, and their commissioned partners, may be able to identify early those young people who will be at risk of homelessness, and by putting support in place at an early stage, can help to reduce the likelihood of a young person leaving home suddenly and facing a housing crisis.

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Services for families and young people

Preventative intervention strategies will require a joined-up approach across several local authority departments, from family and children’s services to youth offending teams, and including education and health services, and can be delivered in conjunction with voluntary sector partners and other providers.

Services that young people come into contact with from childhood to adulthood will include (but not be limited to):

  • Children’s Services
  • Youth Offending Service
  • Troubled Families Service
  • Education Welfare officers
  • voluntary agencies
  • youth advice services.

See the section services for children and young people.

For more information on how young people and their families can best access available services, see advice and referrals.

Strategy - Making every contact count: A joint approach to preventing homelessness

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A strategic approach

A strategic approach to preventing homelessness from an early stage will focus on:

  • family work, including support for parents and family mediation
  • work in schools with peer educators and peer mentors to spread the message of the realities of being young and homeless or vulnerably housed
  • the provision of respite or crisis accommodation.

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