Early intervention needed to stem cases of youth homelessness, says Shelter

More than eight out of 10 young homeless people in Scotland had run away at least once before they reached 16, research by Shelter has found.

A survey of around 150 residents from 11 projects that provide accommodation to homeless young people under the age of 25 also revealed that 20 per cent had run away before they reached 11 years old.

Shelter Scotland is now calling for a greater focus on early intervention to address the causes of children running away.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “These figures show that the children who run away from home today are much more likely to become the young homeless people of tomorrow.

“By continuing to fail those children who feel their only option is to run away, we are guilty of creating a society where lost life opportunities and squandered potential thrive.”

The charity has recommended that increasing prevention work including family mediation and support services, emergency accommodation for young runaways and outreach support will help alleviate the problem of youth homelessness.

Better information sharing and recording between housing and homelessness teams and local authorities is also crucial, Shelter said.

According to the charity, bolstering children’s knowledge around their rights to accommodation both before and after they turn 16 will help stem homelessness and professionals who come into contact with them such as police and youth workers must be able to convey this information.