Too often young people don’t know where to go for help in areas such as housing and homelessness. Youth AIMS was established within Rushmoor as the council believed that young people would feel more comfortable seeking support within a young person friendly environment such as Step by Step. Youth AIMS offers free and confidential advice and information on a range of issues to support young people through challenging times, including support with homelessness and housing.
There are many reasons why young people experience housing difficulties - parents being unable or unwilling to provide housing, extended family being unable to help, splitting from a partner, tenancies ending, domestic abuse, rent arrears and leaving care.
A research study by the BBC in December 2017 found that:
Sofa-surfing is, of course, not a long-term solution. As the person outstays their welcome it can lead to exposure to dangers. Many young people become trapped in a vicious cycle as they face issues compounded by their lack of a permanent home address.
In 2017-2018, 103,000 young people aged 16-25 years approached a local authority for housing need (Centrepoint 2019), but this is potentially just the tip of the iceberg.
Those experiencing homelessness face further barriers:
Youth AIMS is an open access advice and information service that offers guidance to young people in areas such as housing, homelessness, money and debt management, relationships, employment, sexual health and well-being.
Our free and confidential service is available for anyone aged 11-25. We are here to listen and provide support to young people who are going through difficult times.
Support with Housing Needs
In 2018-19, 73% of the young people supported by Youth AIMS had a housing need, an increase on the previous year.
With help from our trained support workers, our aim is to explore the reasons why young people are homeless and to see if there is any way that they can return home. However, for many this is not possible, so we would look into their other housing options:
Youth AIMS may support young people to find accommodation more than once, for example, if their current placement ends or they progress from one of our Accommodation Services to live independently.
Support with Other Issues
During assessment by the Youth AIMS team, over 70% of young people are identified as having some additional needs. These include emotional health and wellbeing, family and relationships, advice with financial issues, employment and education, sexual health needs, and offending behaviour.
Facing severe challenges in life including grooming and exploitation, Helen had been living in the Amber foundation in Devon. She returned to Rushmoor to be closer to family and friends but ended up sofa-surfing with no stable place to call home.
Youth AIMS referred her to a Step by Step emergency bed, before moving her into Step 1 accommodation. She now accesses support from Step by Step staff and is exploring education and employment opportunities.
From April 2018 to April 2019, Youth AIMS supported:
Nick faced many challenges - fleeing domestic abuse, severe relationship breakdown with his Mum’s new partner, lack of employment opportunities and lack of affordable accommodation.
Nick contacted Youth AIMS and disclosed that he experienced suicidal thoughts and substance misuse. He felt that supported accommodation would give him the stability he needed and the chance to build his confidence and self-esteem.
Youth AIMS referred him to our Aldershot accommodation where he could also access the Step by Step counselling service. He is now living independently.
At Step by Step we passionately believe in supporting local young people who are going through hard times. Our unique approach comprises accommodation, personal development opportunities and specialist support services such as Youth AIMS.
Since its launch, Youth AIMS has been able to take significant steps forward in helping young people with housing needs. However, budget cuts at Local Authority level have reduced the service that can be offered. This year, we have received notification that Hart Borough Council are no longer able to fund the Youth AIMS Drop-In Advice service which they have done in previous years. And while our funding from Rushmoor Borough Council has been retained at the same level as 2018-19, this still left a sizeable funding gap to provide a Rushmoor-only service.
Fortunately, we secured a grant from The Schutz Engle Trust, whose valued support means the Youth AIMS service is full funded until March 2020.
“Youth AIMS provides a critically important service to help young people overcome hurdles that the majority of us do not have to face. Every housing situation is different, complex and challenging. But sometimes, with just a few minutes help, we can provide the young person with housing options or advice that can turn their life around. Our service supports some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.”
Kate Martins, Youth AIMS Step Worker
For more information, please contact the Youth AIMS team:
01252 346105 / YouthAIMS@stepbystep.org.uk
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Mia had always had a difficult relationship with her mum. From the age of 13, she was regularly being kicked out of home and finding herself sofa surfing, moving from one friend to another and with no stability in her life.Read more