There are 12,000 16 and 17 year olds in England with no place to call home

a girl leaning against a brick wall

Every year they turn to their local council for help but getting that help is complex.

The accommodation provided often puts them at risk. The support they receive is arbitrary. These vulnerable young people rarely get the assistance they are entitled to. Things need to change.

Putting children's lives in focus

Our two reports, Getting the house in order and On your own, bring the lives of these 16 and 17 year olds sharply into focus. They reveal their stories, how they are treated by local government and shed light on some of the difficult challenges they have to overcome if they are going are going to become independent adults.

Our findings reveal that:

  • only half of those young people who come to their councils for help with homelessness get a formal assessment of their need
  • only a fifth are eventually accommodated. The rest find their own solutions to their homelessness or return home
  • of the young people who are sent back to their families by their local authority a tiny minority (5%) receive help and support to rebuild their family relationships
  • young people can experience violence in their accommodation up to 13 times a year and providers tell us that poor mental health and substance and alcohol abuse pose significant risks to the 16 and 17 year olds who have been accommodated in unsuitable settings to relieve their homelessness

What needs to change

We are calling on the government and local authorities for change. We want to see these vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds receive stronger protection under the law. We want their needs to be properly assessed and we want to see them placed in safe and supportive accommodation where high safeguarding standards are enforced.

We work with hundreds of 16- and 17-year-olds at risk of homelessness across England ever year. Read how Bianca recently sought support and advice from one of our homelessness prevention projects. Jan, whose story we will share next week, is one of our Family Mediation Workers and works with young people at risk of homelessness every day.

Our Seriously Awkward campaign

Both of these reports are part of our Seriously Awkward campaign, which highlights how 16 and 17 year olds are being consistently let down.