As many as 150,000 young people estranged from parents or carers, charity warns

Thousands of 16 to 20-year-olds are estranged from their parents or carers, leaving them vulnerable and struggling in poverty, a charity has said.

There are around 150,000 young people in the UK with severed ties to their families, and the figure is rising, according to research by Buttle UK.

Nearly 3% of students in higher education – or 10,000 – were estranged in 2020-21, with the number growing each year.

It has soared 33% since 2017-18, and 17% over the last 12 months, the children’s charity said.

Many of young people have left abusive, neglectful or chaotic homes and are no longer receiving financial or emotional support from their parents.

Buttle UK provides £2,000 grants to estranged young people through referrals by frontline workers.

But there has been a drop in applications since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity puts this down to the challenges in young people seeing their support worker amid lockdowns, adding an extra barrier to an already difficult situation.

Joseph Howes, Buttle UK chief executive, said: “This report demonstrates very clearly that this hidden group of young people, who have often experienced significant trauma, are vulnerable and lacking support, is growing.

“With no family home to go back to, the festive season is a particularly difficult time for these young people.

“We must shine a light on the challenges faced by estranged young people, and address the barriers identified by them in this report.”

The organisation called for financial and social assistance on a par with care leavers, as well as better infrastructure and educational support.

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