New project launches in Fife to help young people facing homelessness
Imagine living without a place to call home.
Just because we don’t see rough sleepers in shop doorways our High Street doesn’t mean the problem isn’t very real across Fife.
The definition of homelessness is simple - you don’t have a home.
But it is much more layered than that.
You can be classed as homeless - or at risk of it - in many ways.
As well as living on the streets - with all the dangers that brings - it includes staying with friends, family or even strangers.
It includes living in emergency accommodation, being ordered to leave your property, or living at risk of abuse of violence in your home.
It also embraces living in conditions that can affect your physical and mental health
Homelessness isn’t something that just happens to other people - a loss of a job or break-up of a relationship can spiral to a life without a place to call your own.
Young people are one of the most ‘at risk’ groups in Fife - even more so, post-lockdown.
Now, a Scottish youth homelessness charity has launched its services in the Kingdom to offer new support.
Rock Trust has teamed up with Fife Council to expand into the region with an official launch this month.
The Scottish youth homelessness charity hosted an invite only webinar attended by over 100 people within the local authority, youth homelessness and social services sectors.
Its housing support and ‘Housing First for Youth’ initiatives offer an innovative approach to helping people at risk of homelessness.
It is built upon unconditional access to permanent accommodation - meaning that young people don’t have to move home when they no longer require support.
This youth specific model is the first of its kind to operate in Fife after establishing itself in West Lothian and Edinburgh.
Data shows that 581 people between the ages of 16 and25 years old were assessed as homeless in Fife in 2019-20.
That same age group also counts for around 26% of Fife’s homeless presentations - with the figure rising to 30% during the pandemic.
But, the true extent of youth homelessness remains unknown.
Many young people do not register as homeless with the local authority.
Instead they sofa surf’ in the homes of friends or even strangers- and the latter exposes them to many dangers of abuse.
Across Scotland, Fife presented the third highest number of youth homeless applications in 2019-20, closely sitting behind Glasgow and Edinburgh.
It’s hard evidence like that that underlined the overwhelming need for Rock Trust’s housing services in the Kingdom.
As part of the official launch of Rock Trust’s new Fife services, the charity hosted a successful webinar, highlighting some initial achievements which the team have already seen in a short space of time.
These achievements included an increase in confidence in the service users, and seven young people that are now successfully in a permanent
accommodation in the area of their choice.
Kate Polson, chief executive officer, welcomed the chance to expand into the Kingdom with the support of the local authority.
She said: “Rock Trust is pleased to be working with Fife Council, which was keen to offer something effective and innovative for young people with a history of instability and difficult relationships.
“Working together we designed and now deliver a dual Housing First for Youth service ensuring that young people have access to housing and the support to maintain it.
“We have been able to offer young people a safe and secure place to live and a support package to meet their needs as they transition to adulthood.”
The charity helps to strengthen a package of support already in place, with the local authority playing a lead role.
And working together is key to making a positive impact.
Alison Liddell, Fife team leader at Rock Trust said: “The willingness to work collaboratively has allowed us to support young people to identify and address issues promptly, prevent their situations from deteriorating, and help them to make positive and safe choices.”
The charity’s arrival was welcomed by Councillor Judy Hamilton who convenes the council’s community and housing services committee.
She said: “The Housing First Youth Service will provide invaluable assistance to those facing homelessness across Fife.
“The Housing First Youth service will allow young people to develop and build the independent living skills they need to maintain a tenancy.
“Developing a stable living environment is essential for these young people and this support will open up the opportunities to access a warm, safe and permanent home with all the support that they need.”