Do you need to leave home? Here’s a guide to help

Sometimes things change at home, or something happens and you might feel like you need to leave for your own safety and wellbeing.

It can be really overwhelming to think about, but there are a few steps you can take to make leaving home as safe as possible and get some support along the way. You don’t have to go through this on your own. We’re here for you and there are lots of ways to get through it.

Illustration shows the lower half of someone wearing grey shorts wheeling a suitcase

If home isn’t safe…

No one deserves to live somewhere they don’t feel safe. Remember that you have the right to phone 999 if you’re ever in immediate danger- that’s what they’re there for!

You can also call the police non-emergency number on 101 if it’s something less urgent. There are organisations such as Victim Support you can get help from if you’re being affected by crime and aren’t sure if you feel ready to report it to the police.

Whatever you do, don’t stay in a situation that isn’t safe – make sure you get help.

If you’re being kicked out of home, or think you will be soon…

Things at home can be tough. Perhaps you’ve been told you have to leave, or tensions are rising and you think this might happen soon.

Firstly, don’t panic. Often the best way to cope is to get as much information and advice as possible about what your options might be. Then you’ll be in a better position to decide what to do next.

Top tips on leaving home:

Work out which council you fall under

The first step if you’re homeless or at risk of homelessness is usually to get in touch with your local council housing advice team.

Housing support works on what is called a local connection basis, which usually means you’ll need to have lived in a particular area for at least six months, work there, or have really close family members living there.

If you’re not sure, you can type your postcode into here or Centrepoint can help you work this out.

Make a record of the contact details for your council’s housing department and their emergency out of hours number

These will usually be found on the council’s website, but if you’re having any difficulty locating them, Centrepoint can help!

Each council has an emergency number that’s in operation outside of working hours (usually after 5pm and at the weekend). Keep a record of this in case you’re ever forced to leave when the council isn’t open – accommodation isn’t guaranteed but it’s worth a try.

Don’t move to a different area without having a plan

If you go to an area you don’t have a connection to, it’s unlikely the council there will be able to help you unless you have strong evidence to prove you’re not safe in your home area. If you turn up in a different area without a plan of somewhere to stay, you run the risk of being stranded.

Keep a record of anything that shows you have to leave home

Council’s need to do what’s called “verifying homelessness” – so if you have anything that shows you’re homeless or at risk of being kicked out, that can be very helpful. This could be texts, voicemails, or getting something from your family in writing that says you have to leave.

Make sure you have access to any of your ID and personal documents

It can be really hard to access support without ID. If you think you might need to leave home soon, make sure you know where this is and it might be an idea to make a copy.

Check out our article on what to pack if you need to leave home.

Find out if there are any other support services in your area

The council is the first port of call if you’re being kicked out, but in some areas there are also other places where you can get housing advice, help with food and essentials, and sometimes they have access to emergency places to stay. Centrepoint can let you know about any services close to you, or you complete a search on Homeless Link.

Don’t wait until crisis point to speak to the council

You can take a homelessness assessment if you are at risk of homelessness within the next two months (56 days). It’s not guaranteed that the council can give you accommodation; it often depends on whether they decided you fall into a priority category or not, but they still have a duty to provide advice and support even if you don’t.

You should be given a document called a personal housing plan – you can ask for this if you’re not given it. It’s also a good idea to get any decision the council makes about your case in writing. You can bring along a friend or family member with you for support if you like.

What if I’m under 18?

What’s important to know is that if you’re under 18, you should never be left with nowhere safe to stay; that’s written in law. If you’re ever in this situation, the first people to speak to are Children’s Services.

Sometimes people are nervous about getting them involved, but their role is to make sure that anyone under 18 is safe, and they tend to be the ones that emergency accommodation goes through.

If you don’t feel like you can speak to them yourself, someone else can make what’s called a safeguarding referral on your behalf, or you can go down in person to the housing department of your council and they can contact them for you.

Take a look at our article on young people facing homelessness.

What about renting?

It can be really hard to rent a property if you’re under 18 because you can’t legally sign a tenancy agreement until you are 18. It can take a lot to convince a landlord to rent to a 16 or 17 year old, but they might consider it if you:

  • Have an adult who is willing to act as a guarantor – if something goes wrong they will be liable for any rent or damages.
  • Rent with someone who is over 18, a joint tenancy can be could be created in their name.
  • Ask for a licence instead of a tenancy (although this can mean you have less rights). Head to Shelter to find out more about the differences between the two.

What about money?

Most of the time you have to be over 18 to claim benefits, but not always. If you think you might be entitled to any financial support it is always worthwhile checking with benefits specialist such as Citizens Advice or the local council. They vary depending on your circumstances but you could be eligible if:

  • You can show you are living independently and aren’t dependent on your parents
  • You spend more than 35 hours a week caring for someone.
  • You have serious health concerns – you can claim PIP independently from your parents when you’re over 16.
  • You have a child (there is no minimum age to claim child benefit).

If you need to talk…

Leaving home can be really traumatic, and coping with all of this change can be stressful and upsetting. If you need someone to talk to – we’re here for you. Head here to speak to one of our trained team today.

The Mix would like to thank CentrePoint for their help with the advice and information in this article.

Next Steps

  • Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use instead.
  • Crisis helps single homeless people find somewhere to stay. Get help here
  • The Albert Kennedy Trust supports LGBT people aged 16-25-years-old who are homeless or living in a hostile environment. AKT has offices in London (call on 020 7831 6562), Manchester (0161 228 3308) and Newcastle (0191 281 0099).
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 22-Oct-2019