Posted: 28 March 2018

A seriously awkward story

Vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are missing out on support as they move into adulthood. Courtney is just one of many who aren’t getting the chances they deserve in life. This is her story.

A tough start

Courtney’s father committed suicide while she was still in primary school. The shock left her mum struggling to cope both emotionally and financially and as a result, they fell into debt. Consequently forced out of their home, without a permanent place to live, Courtney’s mental health began to suffer.

Unsupported and in need of help

In Year 9 I missed a lot because I had really bad depression and anxiety and it was too much of a struggle to get out of bed in the morning



She missed almost a year of school in the run up to her GCSEs.

Courtney was referred to a counsellor to help her cope, but unfortunately the mental health workers often changed and her therapy had to stop when her sessions ran out. She was left to cope alone during a stressful time when she was desperately in need of support.

As a result, Courtney left school having failed some of her GCSEs.  

Homeless at 16

At 16, Courtney was still experiencing anxiety and depression, yet she received no support from services. Her mum was diagnosed with various health issues, adding to the existing strain and as their relationship gradually worsened, Courtney found herself staying on a friend’s sofa or floor.

‘Bickering all the time …I think it just came to a point where neither of us could handle it’ - Courtney

By 17, her mum had asked her not to return home. Homeless and unsupported, Courtney was struggling to cope. She had left college to become an apprentice, but found it difficult to get by on the low wage and at points, relied on a food bank to eat.

So I went to young people’s services and the homeless bit was only [open] for 2 days and this was not a day. And then I asked “what can I do because I am homeless” and he said “well, if you could couch surf in the meantime, like stay in someone’s house or stay in several people’s houses, then you could do that”.



Eventually she was moved into housing through the council and assigned a support worker, but again she only saw them a handful of times and they were unable to offer her much financial support, due to her being employed.

When it came to the day I was moving into supported housing I literally had no money. I tried explaining that [to my support worker] that I got no money for food and don’t get paid until next month and I have to wait four weeks. And she said there is nothing I can do because you work. So I couldn’t get free bus pass, money for food, nothing was offered to me. I had to ask people in supported housing to make referral to a food bank.



18 and nowhere to turn

At 18, Courtney was made redundant from her apprenticeship, which left her with no income at all.

Even though Courtney is a vulnerable young person, at 18 years old any help from the council is now unavailable to her. Unfortunately, with no family around her for support and nowhere to turn for help, she continues to struggle with her mental health and must support herself while she looks for employment. 

I think it is ridiculous to be palmed off at 18. I’m 18. I’m still a child. I’m left just to fend on my own without any support. So why is it not extended to a bigger age gap. Because it should be.’ - Courtney



How you can help

Right now, the Government is reviewing the support these vulnerable young people receive. It’s a perfect opportunity to give 16 and 17 year olds more help. 


By Louise Jones - Digital team

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