North East Homeless Think Tank (NEHTT) ‘Turning Research into Practice’ seminars series : Seminar Two: Youth Homelessness in the North East 2013

Please note that NEHTT is a third party partner and not part of Youth Homeless North East



North East Homeless Think Tank (NEHTT) ‘Turning Research into Practice’ seminars series


Seminar Two: Youth Homelessness in the North East 2013


Thursday 12th September 2013, Northumbria University





This series of seminars, co-ordinated by the North East Homelessness Think Tank (NEHTT), is targeted at policymakers and practitioners working in the areas of housing and homelessness, and other related fields. The aims of the seminars are to disseminate the findings of relevant research and to explore how the findings could help to inform policy, good practice and innovative approaches to tackling and preventing homelessness.


The second seminar presented the findings of the 2013 Survey of Youth Homelessness in the North East, conducted by Youth Homeless North East (YHNE), in collaboration with Homeless Link and Centrepoint. The survey analysis and report was produced by Adele Irving (Research Fellow, Northumbria University). The survey findings were used as a basis for discussion about the implications of the changing regional picture of youth homeless for local policy and practice.



Attendees on the day


  • Janet Alder, Supported Housing Manager, Community Campus ’87 Ltd
  • Sharon Brown (Chair), Regional Manager, Youth Homeless North East
  • Penny Brunton, Accommodation Services Manager, Sunderland City Council
  • Jean Burnside, Chief Officer, South Tyneside Churches’ Key Project
  • Mike Clark, Chair, Vela Group
  • Herbie Cooper, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Your Homes Newcastle Youth People’s Service
  • Judith Das, Deputy Manager, Eslington House, Cyrenians
  • Ben Dickenson, Business Contracts Manager, Home Group
  • Phil Dobson, Projects Manager, Aquila Way
  • Joanne French, Supported Housing Manager, Community Campus ’87 Ltd
  • Catherine Hattam, Housing Options Manager, Gateshead Council
  • Adele Irving, Research Fellow, Northumbria University
  • Helen Jackson, Extended Hours Visiting Officer, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
  • Natalie Maidment, Policy Officer, VONNE
  • Suzanne Martin, NEHTT Administrator, Northumbria University
  • Kieran Platts, Project Assistant, Youth Homeless North East
  • Julie Simpson, Senior Practitioner, Sunderland Youth Offending Service
  • Wendy Wallace, Peer Education Co-ordinator, Your Homes Newcastle Young People’s Service




About the Survey


In March 2012, YHNE conducted a survey into the nature and extent of, and responses to, youth homelessness in the North East. The survey aimed to build upon the findings of Homeless Link’s national research into youth homelessness, ‘Young and Homeless’, which was published in December 2011. The North East was significantly under-represented in the national findings. As such, YHNE repeated the survey regionally, attracting responses from 10 local authorities and 23 providers. The findings were later used to inform strategic priorities and service provision across the region. YHNE would like the survey to become an annual exercise, providing the region with: an up to date assessment of the regional picture of youth homelessness and its changing nature over time, as well as a comparison of the regional picture in relation to the national picture. As such, the survey was repeated in March 2013.


The research was carried out through two online surveys; one tailored to local authorities and the other for providers of accommodation and support services for homeless young people. The questionnaires focused on six key areas:


  • The Extent of Youth Homelessness
  • The Causes of Youth Homelessness
  • Preventing Youth Homelessness
  • The Support Needs of Young Homeless People
  • Support Services for Young Homeless People
  • Welfare Reform


Both questionnaires asked for information relating to ‘single homeless people aged 16-24’ and referred to two timeframes: February 2013 for snapshot figures and the previous 12 months for the assessment of changes over time. 34 responses from all 12 local authorities and 29 responses from projects delivered by 21 providers were received.


Youth Homelessness in the North East 2013 – Key Survey Findings

  • The quantitative and qualitative data was inconclusive regarding the changing scale of youth homelessness in the region.
  • The age breakdown of homeless youth people is almost evenly spread across the 16-24 age bracket. Increases were most likely to be reported among young people aged 16-17 and 20-21.
  • ‘Relationship breakdown’ remains the primary cause of youth homelessness, although homelessness as a result of rent arrears and benefit changes has risen.
  • A range of homelessness prevention service are available across the region, with returning to the family home being the most common outcome.
  • Joint working between Children’s Services and Housing departments was descried as ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’ in almost all cases.
  • The most frequently occurring support needs of young clients in February 2013 were: lack of independent living skills, lack of relationship skills and not being in education, employment or training.
  • Levels of rough sleeping among young people remain unchanged, while the number of care leavers who become homeless in the North East is significantly below the national average.
  • Respondents presented a largely positive picture regarding the availability of emergency, support and accommodation services, reporting little change over time. B&B usage in region is low.
  • However, capacity constraints within the voluntary and community sector (VCS) are becoming more acute over time.
  • There are concerns over the impact of welfare reform on the scale of youth homelessness, due to financial hardship and limited accommodation option and on the likelihood of successful move-on for many young people, particularly those with complex needs. Providers reported increases in poverty among young clients, with more seeking support from food banks.


The survey findings indicated a number of areas that would benefit from the sector’s on-going consideration. These are:


  • Increasing housing options for vulnerable young people.
  • Maintaining or increasing the sector’s current focus on supporting young people to access employment opportunities.
  • Protecting floating support services for young people, and
  • The continuation of specialist support to vulnerable young client groups, such as those with complex needs and those with an offending history.

The full survey report can be accessed at:

Key Thoughts based on the Survey Findings

  • There is a need for greater clarity in monitoring single homelessness. At present, different methods of recording or an inability to record the true scale does not provide an accurate measure of youth homelessness. This evidences the need for a single point of contact system.
  • We need to have a more nuanced understanding of the causes of homelessness such as relationship breakdown.
  • Work around positive relationships is important. Often parents need support, as well as the young people. Mediation should look to identify the root cause of relationship breakdown.
  • EARLY intervention is critical. Engaging with young people aged 16-17 may be too late. There should be greater links between the homelessness sector and the ‘Troubled Families’ initiative.
  • Increasing levels of substance misuse amongst young people is a recurring cause of homelessness and requires further exploration.
  • Young people experiencing multiple and complex needs require intensive support. This must be protected in the context of funding cuts and reduced capacity. However, is there duplication regarding multi-agency involvement with young people? Could this be reduced?
  • It is important to maintain a focus on preventative services, such as pre-tenancy training that could prepare young people to take up shared housing opportunities.
  • Are rent arrears linked to problems of financial literacy or choice/lifestyle?
  • Could the sector do more to create work schemes with realistic recruitment options at the end?
  • It is important to understand the impacts of Welfare Reform from both the provider and client perspective.
  • Are the long-term costs of homelessness being fully recognised, in the context of welfare reform?


Key Challenges and Concerns within the Sector


  • The shortage of housing options for young people, made more acute by welfare reform changes.
  • Young people not wanting to live in sharing accommodation options.
  • The limited provision of floating support services.
  • Negative mind-sets.
  • Managing relationships with difficult clients.
  • Further cuts to (former) Supporting People budgets are still to come.
  • Does the ‘care system’ effectively support young people to learn independent living/life skills?
  • Is returning home always a positive outcome? Do we see repeat presentations from this?
  • The limited employment options available to young people in the North East.
  • Apprentice Schemes currently exclude young people with low qualifications.
  • National government policy ignores the specific issues facing the North East.


Opportunities for the Sector

  • Showcasing and building upon what has been proven to work.
  • Closer collaboration with the private rented sector.
  • Adaptation or redevelopment of empty three bedroomed properties.
  • Providers managing young people’s expectations around housing/move-on options and shared living.
  • Transitional housing for young people leaving care or supported accommodation?
  • Employment/apprenticeship opportunities with local businesses, including Housing Associations/providers building a percentage of ex-service users/young people into their employment criteria.
  • Engaging with strategic influencers such as the Association of North East Councils.



The North East Homelessness Think Tank established in 2012 aims to inform and influence policies affecting homeless people through research, campaigning and other collaborative activities. NEHTT uses the knowledge and resources of its members in the North East to influence policy locally, regionally and nationally.


Members include academics, researchers and policy officers (from Centrepoint, Youth Homeless North East, Homeless Link, Shelter, Barnardo’s, The Cyrenians, the Institute for Public Policy and Research North, Northern Housing Consortium, and Northumbria University) as well as independent specialists.


More information about NEHTT can be accessed on our page of the Youth Homelessness North East website at:


Please follow us on Twitter at: @NEHomelessTT.


For further information about the survey, please contact Sharon Brown, Regional Manager, at





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