Interview: What’s it like to be forced to leave home?

Illustration shows a young person in a purple jacket and a yellow hat. They are walking away from a house at night time

Working alongside Youth Voice, which is a part of the homelessness charity, St. Basils, we spoke to five young people who have been vulnerably housed or have experienced homelessness. Emily, James, Kyle, Emily T and Georgia were kind enough to share their stories about leaving home and the reasons they felt like they had to get away.

Youth Voice works across the UK to engage and help young people aged 16-25 who have been affected by homelessness. This is the first in a series of three interviews, so watch this space for more stories and advice.

The Mix: What were the main reasons that led you to feel like you had to leave home?

Kyle:

I wanted independence. Mum kicked me out and I wanted to escape everything that was happening in my life at that time.

Emily:

The reasons why I left home were because my mum didn’t care; she wasn’t supporting me no matter what. I always had to take care of my dad and my own little siblings while my mum went off with the next man. There was a lot of violence around me and my mental health just couldn’t cope any more. I went through the care system and then I went through St. Basils – best time of my life.

Georgia:

A relationship breakdown between me and my mum.

James:

When I was younger I suffered from a significant eating disorder and depression; because of this my parents and I would get into a lot of arguments regarding the amount of hospital admissions I was having and would try to stop me from attending hospital appointments and the hospital admissions I was required to have.

Emily T:

My house was repossessed, and my Dad died.

The Mix: What advice would you give to a young person who feels like they might have to leave home?

Emily T:

Make sure that your school/college/university know everything that’s going on. It will be worth it in the long run as they have bursaries to help, but also some understanding when you may be missing classes due to new bus routes etc., can go a long way. Make sure you have a friend to turn to. Please be safe and remember that as awful as things may seem currently, things will look up in time.

Emily:

When I spoke to my friend, she told me she might have to leave because she can’t stay with her mum no more. I said, “have you looked into any places you could go?”, and she said no. I said, “try St Basils; they are a charity that help young people between the ages of 16-25 and they give you a lot of support”. I said, “the hostels are not the same as people think they are. They are totally different, they are more like home than anything else.”

Georgia:

You can do it! You’re stronger than you think! Despite all odds times do get better and you will get through this. When I moved out, I lost a lot of “friends” and I fell out with family, but over time you realise you know who your real friends are at times like these. Also, you might make friends in your block, whether that be a YMCA or foyer, but when they leave, you’re likely to never talk to them again, so don’t get too attached!

James:

I’d advise them to get a plan in place for if they had to leave in an emergency, things like knowing what they need to take with them (tooth brush, toothpaste, warm clothes, money, food, etc.), where they need to go to (social services/council/other agencies), and who they would tell.

I’d also advise them to speak to someone, whether it’s a teacher, support worker, or psychiatrist, to try and get support in place for if they need to leave. I would also tell them to see if something can be done so that they don’t have to leave home, or at least give them more time until they do, so that a more formal plan can be put in place.

Kyle:

Google homeless organisations for young people to find a company who can help, for example St. Basils, and call the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Mix: What are your top tips off finding support?

Emily:

Just keep looking and never GIVE UP!!!

Emily T:

Talk to your teachers, friend’s parents, etc. The “adults” are really the ones who know where to go and what to do.

Kyle:

ASK FOR HELP!!! DON’T BE SCARED TO ASK FOR HELP!!

Georgia:

Ask for it! If you are ignored or don’t feel you’re being listened to, ask again!

James:

Have an action plan of what to do.

Make a list of what you need and prioritise, so you get the things you need quicker.

Don’t be afraid to call up and ask if you’re not sure if somewhere can help you, even if they can’t, they might know somewhere that will.

If you need help with housing (or anything else)

Can you relate to the stories these young people have told? If things feel unsafe and you think you might need to leave home, you’re not alone and we’re here for you. The Mix offers free and confidential support on housing and any other issue you may be facing. You can contact our trained team here to speak to someone today.

Take a look at our guide to leaving home and read our article on young people facing homelessness.

The Mix would like to thank Youth Voice, St Basils, Emily, James, Kyle, Emily T and Georgia for their involvement in the interviews.

Next Steps

  • 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).
  • Shelter offers advice on all housing issues. Get advice here or by calling their housing helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/
  • Crisis helps single homeless people, aiming to break the cycle of homelessness.
  • 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.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 15-Jan-2020