When a young person is homeless, it can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. While other young people are able to focus on their education, getting good grades and other aspects of their lives, homeless young people often worry about basic necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter.
It can be difficult to identify a homeless young person, one of the reasons being because homelessness is often thought of as individuals living on the street or in a shelter. The reality is that homelessness can also take many other forms. In fact, the government definition of homelessness includes those who lack a “fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence.” This includes individuals and families who are living with others due to a loss of housing, staying with friends or family. You also count as homeless if you are staying in a hostel, night shelter or B&B, squatting (because you have no legal right to stay), at risk of violence or abuse in your home, living in poor conditions that affect your health, living apart from your family because you don't have a place to live together.
Through having a clear understanding of the various definitions, schools, colleges and support organisations can identify young people experiencing homelessness quickly and educate others so that if there is a housing loss, young people can be provided with the supports they need.
Generally speaking, young people who are homeless face emotional distress in the form of anxiety or low self-esteem and lower academic achievement. With intentional planning, schools, colleges and support organisations can be a resource for young people experiencing homelessness that helps them to stay on track, attain good education and achieve their life goals. But if we continue to neglect the specific needs of homeless young people, we run the risk of consigning them to lives of uncertainty and placing their dream future further out of reach.
YOUTH PWR offers support and advice to young people affected by homelessness. We also support homeless young people into training and job opportunities with our overall goal being to prepare them to live independently when the time is right.