I was recently asked by the National Development Team for inclusion (NDTi) to speak at a range of events across the UK as part of the Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) programme.
My specialism is housing and as a result I was asked to facilitate a session called ‘Housing for Young People’. For many, this is the area they find the most difficult and I am always left thinking why, why, why?
To my mind it should be no more difficult than any of the other outcomes and certainly no less important.
Where do we start?
Under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 PfA outcomes are the focus of EHC plan reviews from year 9 onwards. This is a really good time to start thinking about housing and what options are available. However, in many cases it is left until last or even until after there has been a crisis.
Why is this? Why are we not talking to and teaching young people about housing at a much earlier stage? I see it mentioned in various pathway planning processes but get the feeling that is all it is, a mention.
For young people to move into adulthood with clear housing options, and the chance to develop their independence, college’s and post-16 providers need to deliver sessions about housing. Wouldn’t it be great if young people attended sessions that:
- talk about what the options are;
- give young people and their families the tools and resources they need to fully understand what is available and how they can access it;
- complete mock housing register applications, housing benefit applications and full housing applications;
- give support to research the housing options in their own area.
It’s important to remember that home ownership could be a future goal as a housing option and young people will need support to plan for this.
Let’s make educating our young people about housing a priority, making it fun along the way and let’s involve our housing partners too!
How can you help?
There are lots of ‘Independent Living’ tabs on lots of websites but independent living isn’t just about learning skills to live independently it is also about the type of home, the bricks and mortar walls around you, that are needed so you can put your skills to the test.
The range of accommodation that is available for young people should be available in every Local Offer. Giving young people all the information they need to help them make informed choices about their future move from home.
For many, it is only by experiencing these life styles that they can fully comprehend what each choice actually means but if they are not aware of what the choices are this cannot happen.
For that reason, having these options available in a place that is accessible to young people and their families, such as on the Local Offer website is essential for an effective transition into adult life and of equal importance with education and employment.
All disabled people, including those with a learning disability or special educational need, should have the opportunity to live on an ordinary street, in an ordinary house, just like everyone else. Sadly, still not everybody gets a choice about where they live or who they live with.
By raising awareness and supporting people to understand their options we can help young people to get the right housing and the right support to be able to live as independently as possible.
We need to ensure that young people and families understand the housing system as a whole, using tools and resources such as:
- My Own Place by NDTi: A report providing practial tools and advice
- Your Place to Live by the Housing Support Alliance: a video featuring 6 young people talking about where they live
- Websites to access advice and information such as www.housingandsupport.org.uk/home
I could go on all day about what is needed but unless someone within the local area pushes for more housing advice and information to be available this will continue to be a missed opportunity for many young people.
It was great having the opportunity to speak at these events and to share this blog. Hopefully those who attended and those of you reading this now are feeling as passionate as I do about housing and will strive to be that champion that makes it work for young people in their area.