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National Homeless Advice Service

Intensive preventative work

Family stresses can generate a high risk of homelessness among young people once they reach the age of 16. Local authorities and their partners should deliver a wide range of support services to these children and families under stress.

Sometimes, these services are explicitly linked to local authority housing options team work, where young people with the perception that they have become homeless are provided with such preventative support.

Intensive preventative services can include intensive work with families in the community, support and services for children and families in temporary accommodation, and support and preventative work for young runaways.

Intensive work with families in the community

There are a multitude of factors that can increase the risk of young people separating from their family and becoming homeless at a point of crisis in their relationship. Many of these factors can occur simultaneously.

Factors can include:

  • breakdown of a parent’s relationship
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • domestic violence
  • anti-social behaviour outside the home
  • physical or mental health problems
  • unemployment
  • debt and poverty

A holistic approach to preventing homelessness should look at all the needs of the family, with a particular focus on the needs of the young person. The Dartford case study provides an example of how this can work.

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Working with families in temporary accommodation

A number of organisations provide a holistic range of support for children and families in temporary accommodation. This includes:

  • advocacy and information on welfare benefits and housing, and dealing with emergencies and complex issues around housing
  • assistance for families with physical housing needs - for example support to improve a property if it is in disrepair or infested with vermin
  • counselling and art therapy projects that offer emotional and therapeutic support to children living in temporary accommodation
  • alternatives to temporary accommodation provided by local authorities, such as specialist temporary accommodation to support single fathers with children.

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Work with young runaways

Some organisations working primarily with children provide crisis intervention, advocacy and practical support to children and young people aged 18 and under who have run away from home, or who are at risk of running away from home.

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