A major new campaign to tackle hidden homelessness by raising awareness that “homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets” has been launched by the Welsh Government.
The campaign aims to bring to light the problem of hidden homelessness, and is targeted at young people who may be at risk of or already experiencing homelessness. The campaign also advises the public on what to do if they’re concerned about someone they know.
Research suggests people overwhelmingly connect homelessness with rough sleeping only – which is not the case for most young people experiencing homelessness.
Even if someone has a roof over their head, they can still be homeless. They could be sofa surfing at a friends’ place, or staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel, night shelter or bed & breakfast. It might be they are living in very poor conditions or somewhere that’s not suitable for them or their family.
To help identify people who could be homeless, there are a number of signs that people can look out for:
- They may be having difficulties with their relationships with their parents and close family members;
- They may be reluctant to go home – spending lots of their time outside; in public places that offer shelter and connection to wifi – for example train stations and cafes; staying late at their education setting or jobs;
- They may be keeping belongings with them and have problems with keeping clothes clean;
- They might be asking for help with money and using food banks;
- They may have lost their job;
- They may be experiencing physical or mental health problems.
Those experiencing hidden homelessness are more likely to be at risk of exploitation, particularly young people. For example, they might be targeted by people who want to pressurise them into sex or unwaged labour in exchange for a roof over their head.
The campaign is designed to ensure that young people get the help and support they need as soon as possible, preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.
Housing Minister Julie James:
Many people think homelessness is only about rough sleeping – it is not. Many young people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness don’t recognise themselves as homeless.
If you don’t have a place to call home it is likely that you are experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’.
We know young people often don’t know where to seek advice and support – so that’s why we’re launching this new campaign.
So if you think you’re experiencing hidden homelessness or you’re at risk of it then get help now. It’s never too late or too early to get help.
The Welsh Government funds Shelter Cymru to provide independent housing advice and support. The service also links people to partner organisations who can provide support services based on the needs of individuals.
Shelter Cymru Director Jon Puzey said:
We know the earlier and more often someone experiences homelessness, the more likely they are to develop complex issues that might mean they become homeless repeatedly throughout their adult life. That’s why it’s so important that we make it a priority to prevent youth homelessness.
It’s fantastic that the Welsh Government is taking this so seriously and helping us to reach more young people. With this joint campaign we are making sure that young people know that Shelter Cymru is here to help them.”
For advice and support people can call Shelter Cymru on 08000 495 495 or visit the Shelter Cymru website by going to www.sheltercymru.org.uk/hiddenhomelessness