In recent years, local authorities services and their commissioned partners, have begun to take a more proactive pathway approach toward preventing young people becoming homeless and/or vulnerably housed.
The pathway represents a strategic and integrated approach to reducing and preventing young people becoming homelessness, while at the same time working to improve their future housing, health and work opportunities.
The key partners in this approach are local authorities childrens and housing services, private and voluntary sector providers, and other relevant organisations.
The goal of the pathway will be for young people to access and sustain long-term settled housing. The stages on the pathway will not necessarily be followed in any particular order. Some young people may move straight from their family home to their own tenancies, while others will move back and forward between different options until they are able to sustain independent living.
With the right supportive relationships, strong ambitions and good opportunities all young people can realise their potential and be positive and active members of society. Most get these from and through their families and friends, their school or college and their wider community enabling them to do well and to prepare for adult life. All young people benefit from additional opportunities and support, but some young people and their families, particularly the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, need specific additional and early help to address their challenges and realise their potential.
(Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Services and Activities to Improve Young People’s Well-being, available here).
Central to the pathway approach is a shift in emphasis - instead of focusing resources on reacting to housing crisis, the focus here is on early intervention and prevention. This is achieved through identifying and assessing young people at risk of homelessness, and providing mediation and family support to prevent young people leaving home before they are ready, or to facilitate their return if they have left already.
If a young person does then have to leave home, the focus is on providing access to appropriate services while working towards family reconciliation.
For young people unable to return to the family home, a supported pathway would help them with housing and support.
To help young people experiencing housing crisis, advice provision can focus on accommodation and support options, such as:
Whether as part of a planned and supported move, or suddenly due to crisis, young people will eventually require skills and support to sustain independent living in the private or social rented sector.
At this stage, young people would benefit from:
Importantly, the pathway approach is about more than housing. Crucial to any young person’s development will be the opportunity to:
With the goal of helping young people make the transition to unsupported independent living, advice provision at this stage can focus on signposting and providing information on education, training, and real world issues such as money, benefits, relationships and sexual health.
This ‘pathway’ approach, supporting young people to safely navigate a route from home to independence, will not be appropriate for all young people. However, the duties and services detailed here will be applicable to many young people, as will the challenges being faced in securing long-term settled accommodation in a difficult housing climate.