Family mediation helps prevent youth homelessness

Emma outside Parliament demonstrating the scale of the problem

A week on from yet another event at the Parliament and everyone in the office is heartily sick of jelly babies! Six thousand of them were used to graphically demonstrate the number of young people who become homeless in Scotland every year. Even in the best of times the biggest trigger for youth homelessness is family breakdown. These are not the best of times.

Despite sterling efforts from everyone concerned in Scotland – councils, charities, housing associations – the numbers at risk can only be rising. Not just youth joblessness, but the unemployment of parents, lowering real incomes and rising cost of living all increase the pressure within families, with relationships already fragile through the teen years.

Add to that the growing shortage of affordable housing, benefit reforms and growing gaps in the welfare safety net from the cuts  and we have a dangerous cocktail of conditions that remind me of the last shocking tidal wave of youth homelessness I witnessed in the early nineties when we had to resort at one point to putting sleeping bags on the office floor at night.

But Cyrenians are not moaners or scaremongers. Cyrenians latest report Mediation & Homelessness is based on a study of the use of mediation over the last 10 years to prevent young people ending up homeless by crashing out of the family home.  We offer it as a pragmatic and cost effective solution. Emma Dore has done a wonderful job of presenting clear and compelling evidence that properly targeted and trained mediation services are an important part of the tool-kit for preventing youth homelessness.

We’re leaving it to others to crunch the numbers and calculate if the intervention actually saves money and makes it an attractive proposition to funders in austere times. We quote other research that shows a saving of £3,229 per case. But far more compelling is the evidence from practice of lives changed by being helped to talk to each other and sort out problems before they end in breakdown that costs years of misery. Click here to watch the short film about Cyrenians Amber service.

Cyrenians need support to be able to keep supporting over 3,000 people a year


One Comment on “Family mediation helps prevent youth homelessness”

  1. Emma Dore says:

    ‘Young and Homeless’ research launched this month by ‘Homeless Link’ in England shows that the recession, welfare reform and rising youth unemployment are having a marked impact on youth homelessness south of the Border.

    •Nearly half of homelessness services (44%) and councils (48%) have seen an increase in young people seeking help because they are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless over the past year.

    •48% of homeless agencies reported turning away young single homeless people because their resources were fully stretched;

    •Nearly one in five local authorities (17%) feel they are not meeting their legal requirements for homeless young people aged 16-17;

    Amongst other things the report recommends that family mediation remains firmly on the agenda as it directly tackles the greatest cause of youth homelessness – relationship breakdown. Although 2010/11 saw youth homeless figures in Scotland fall slightly, this insightful and robust research is an important reminder to Scotland to continue investing in youth homeless prevention and to keep a keen eye on those on the margins in these stormy times of change.

    The full report is available here:

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