Earlier in the year we posted about a young man who resides here at YMCA North Tyneside and how he was due to visit the Houses of Parliament to discuss fundamental topics around youth homelessness as part of St Basil’s Youth Voice.
After travelling to London and undergoing rigorous security checks, our young representative spoke eloquently about the information both schools and health services should be providing to prevent homelessness.
Q2: What are your expectations of the information that schools should provide to prevent
Youth Homeless Parliament members are passionate about having accessible informationwithin schools and other educational provision. To ensure this reaches as many youngpeople as possible. The information we feel is needed, should be promoted in creative andinnovative ways, these include:Workshops and discussions around homelessness; mental and physical health; finances including budgeting and debt management; independent living skills; crisis management and resilience; and communication skills. These workshops should aim to reduce the stigma surrounding people who face these issues as well as normalise and humanise those who it affects. These workshops should be a combination of developing emotional and practical skills, and so young people have suggested that employability skills, tenancy management and cooking programmes should also run alongside the workshops, with the possibility of achieving accreditation at GCSE level. Young homeless people have also made suggestion that information should be accessible throughout the year, and state that if running programmes to support promotion of the informative workshops interferes with the curriculum, that summer schools could be set up specifically to deliver these. Schools should hold regularly updated information of services available to young people within the local area such as, social activities, health and wellbeing, volunteering, work experience and further academic progression. As well as family related support such as, early intervention, mediation services, counselling and family fun activities.
Q3: Thinking about homelessness prevention what role should schools and health services
Youth Homeless Parliament members feel that schools should actively make referrals to
external agencies, if they identify issues arising around homelessness, mental health,
physical health; after investigation with the young person and family (where appropriate). If
there are young homeless and/ or vulnerable young people known to them, they should
support with accessing appointments (health and housing related), including flexible
timetables and finances to attend.
Young people stated that teachers and tutors within educational settings should be trained in
mental health first aid and in noticing signs of homelessness and/ or other risks or
vulnerabilities from students, triggering a red flag prior to crisis; there should be a welfare
officer or family worker to raise these issues to, as this could be the first point of contact to
start family mediation.
Youth Homeless Parliament members have identified ways in which we feel health services
should help, this includes;
A set of health workers regularly completing informative talks within schools in their local
borough. If young people regularly see and speak to the health workers, this may help reduce anxieties around asking for help and attending appointments when issues first arise rather than accessing only when crisis has hit. Health services should offer chaperones to young vulnerable people, to support with attending health related appointments and act as an advocate if necessary. Health providers should be understanding, supportive and empathetic to young people and not clock watch when information is disclosed. If vulnerabilities are identified during a health appointment, health providers should contact local authorities or a relevant agency to discuss the young person’s needs, with consent from the young person. We feel that having access to online booking forms to make appointments would be useful, as this would stop young people needing credit or cash to make telephone appointments. Online bookings can be made more directly, if a young person is in an abusive situation.
The young people involved thanked the minister for inviting them along and listening to their suggestions. If you would like to find out more about the work we do here at YMCA North Tyneside please contact us here for more information.