Homeless Young People — [John Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Gilbert Stephen Gilbert Liberal Democrat, St Austell and Newquay 2:30 pm, 21st January 2015

The hon. Lady makes a perfectly valid point. Abuse can come in many forms, whether violent, sexual or psychological. Often, family breakdown has a lasting negative impact on people’s mental health. I have a constituent who was turned away by his family and booted out the door because he came out to them as gay. That had a devastating impact, and when he presented to Cornwall council as homeless and was unable to get any support, it felt like a double whammy. Ultimately, we were able to secure support for him, but the hon. Lady makes exactly the right point—many of the individuals who present as homeless have complex underlying needs. We do not do them or ourselves a favour if we do not address those needs.

The first place where many people present with complex needs is their local council. Councils are in a unique position to assist people, but when they fail to do so, people in need of help can be left with nowhere to go and their experience can quickly spiral deeper and deeper into chaotic homelessness. Evidence shows that while the number of young people accepted by local authorities as statutorily homeless is going down, the number of young people accessing homelessness services is increasing.