Preventing Youth Homelessness through Family Support: A Place to Call Home
by Loic Menzies
11th June 2019
Today we publish the findings of a pilot programme to tackle youth homelessness through early intervention.
The pilot builds on the findings of our 2017 report “A Place to Call Home” which identified the key causes of youth homelessness and examined the impact that experiencing homelessness had on young people’s educational experiences.
Our 2017 report explained that familial relationship breakdown is the main cause of youth homelessness. However, the young people we worked with as part of that project told us they did not receive support early enough to prevent these difficulties leading them to become homeless.
Since then, we have worked with Sage Foundation and the Newcastle Charity “Family Gateway” to act on those findings, through a pilot intervention that has supported families to prevent relationship breakdown and thus, youth homelessness. Over the past year, we have worked alongside Family Gateway to evaluate the intervention’s impact.
Our evaluation report, published today, demonstrates that early-intervention can help ensure young people have a safe place to call home.
Young people at risk of homelessness due to family relationship breakdown were supported by Family Gateway over the course of nine months to a year.
Family Gateway use a ‘Barefoot Professional Model’ whereby local parents who have experienced similar issues to those faced by families in need of support are trained to become ‘Family Entrepreneurs’. Family Entrepreneurs work with families in their own communities and offer tailored support, including family mediation, to each young person and their family.
After working with Family Gateway, young people and parents were more likely to feel positive about their family relationships (see figure 1). In particular, families reported improvements in:
- their ability to deal with and resolve disagreements without this escalating to a conflict
- their tendency to express their emotions honestly to one another
- the extent to which young people felt their parents encouraged them to reach their goals.
Of the eleven young people Family Gateway supported in this pilot project (all of whom were at high risk of becoming homeless), eight were prevented from becoming homeless. Three young people did become homeless but with Family Gateway’s support, two were able to return to their family home and one was supported to move into independent accommodation, as home was not the best place for them to be.