Scarborough's youth homelessness highest in North Yorkshire as demand for charity's services soars

The demand for youth homelessness services in Scarborough is the highest in North Yorkshire, a leading charity has said.

By George Buksmann
Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:11 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:13 am

Safe and Sound Homes (SASH) prevents youth homelessness in North and East Yorkshire by placing vulnerable 16 to 25-year-old at-risk young adults in short-term emergency accommodation and long-term supported accommodation, depending on their needs.

Referrals for accommodation were higher in Scarborough than any other area that SASH covers across North and East Yorkshire between 2021 and 2022.

Young people in Scarborough account for 43 per cent of those using the charity’s long-term accommodation and 32 per cent of its emergency accommodation service.

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Wilkey, Anne Unsworth and Nicky Olsson, of the SASH team in Scarborough.

Nicky Olsson, SASH Placement Co-ordinator for Scarborough, said: "The majority of the young people in the Scarborough area referred to SASH are facing homelessness following family relationship breakdowns.

"We have seen a shift in the ages of young people referred to us. Where we used to see mostly 16 to 18-year-olds, we are now seeing a more even distribution of ages between 16 and 24. We think that this shift is partly due to the availability of accommodation for young people in the area.

"We have also seen this have an increase in length of time that young people are in our accommodation. Some young people have had to move out of the Scarborough area to housing that is available in other areas of North and East Yorkshire."

The charity supports more than 300 young people on average each year and matches vulnerable young people with volunteer hosts in the community, giving young people a safe home environment and the support they need to break the cycle of homelessness.

SASH helps Scarborough's most vulnerable young people.

SASH also places great emphasis on ensuring the young people they help are accessing education, training or employment and support towards independent living, whilst supporting their mental health.

Pandemic impact of 'unprecedented scale'

At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has been "especially challenging" for the vulnerable young people SASH supports.

The charity said that young people's mental health was challenged on an "unprecedented scale" after any sense of stability from school, college or work was removed.

Anne Unsworth and Tiff Wilkey chat to a young person in the office.

"The pandemic has hit the charity sector hard, and the impact of the pandemic on these young people will be felt for many years to come," a spokesperson for SASH said.

Covid has also forced hundreds of Scarborough households into homelessness during the first 18 months of the pandemic, new figures have revealed.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show that 527 households in Scarborough sought council support after becoming homeless between April 2020 and the end of September 2021. Of those, 131 were households with children.

Across England, 222,360 households have been pushed into homelessness since April 2020.

Nicky Olsson, pictured, said the charity is urgently seeking to recruit and train new hosts.

Osama Bhutta, director of campaigns at housing charity Shelter, said the pandemic has been "atrocious" for struggling families, even with protections like the eviction ban and the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

He added: "Now living costs are spiralling and all the protections are gone, even more people will be at risk of losing their homes.

"The economic impact of the pandemic has exposed the true cost of decades of failure to build the social homes we need, leaving millions in insecure homes they can barely afford."

Families forced into homelessness

Bailiff-enforced evictions were banned for a large part of the pandemic – a measure introduced by the Government to prevent renters from being made homeless – though the ban was lifted in England in May last year.

Containing the first three full months' worth of data after the eviction ban was lifted, the latest statistics show 36,510 English households became homeless between July and September 2021 – the equivalent of 397 every day.

In Scarborough, 95 households needed help because they were homeless over this time – up from 72 during the same period in 2020.

SASH are searching for new hosts across North and East Yorkshire, to welcome local young people at risk of homelessness into their homes.

Ms Olsson added: "We are urgently seeking to recruit and train new hosts to continue providing our vital services. We currently have a waiting list of young people who need our support."