Youth Homeless Parliament 2019 - Speak up for change

Thursday, 31 January 2019 - 11:32am

Yasmin Washbrook, Youth voice facilitator at St Basils Youth Voice, tells us about Youth Homeless Parliament 2019; supporting young people who are homeless to have their voices heard, by discussing their experiences directly with government ministers.

Youths in parliament

Experiencing homelessness should not stop young people having their voice heard

At St Basil’s we believe that when young people have an opportunity to positively engage with their surroundings, this can support the development of feeling valued, raise their confidence and aspirations, and empower the young person to feel that they can influence change. One of St Basil’s strategic priorities is getting young people experiencing homelessness fully involved in setting standards, identifying priorities and monitoring services. They are encouraged to become involved with activities that will directly influence the organisation, from their accommodation, through to staff recruitment and strategic development. With continued funding from The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Youth Homeless Parliament (YHP) was established in May 2013, following a successful initial event in 2012. The YHP project enables young people who are homeless to have a voice and to share their experiences with politicians in Westminster, London.

The YHP is managed by St Basil's but involves young representatives from a wide range of agencies, such as: Centrepoint, St Mungo’s, Depaul, YMCA England, Roundabout, Forum Housing, Youth Homeless North East and St Basil’s, as well as support from Homeless Link and LandAid. It has continued to progress year on year, and has enabled conversations to happen between Ministers, civil servants and young people experiencing homelessness, to drive the development of good practice and policy reform and support young people who are homeless across England.

Recent achievements include the YHP 2017 opportunity to have direct input into the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Young people helped to discuss priorities and develop recommendations, which can be seen in the YHP 2017 report. Following this success, YHP 2018 saw Ministers request recommendations on four key areas;

1. The positive impact of health and wellbeing services for young people, prior to becoming homeless or during their homelessness journey

2. Barriers to accessing health services, for young people and ways in which technology could help reduce these

3. The impact of social media on a young person’s health and wellbeing, prior to or during their homelessness journey

4. Ways in which Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender + status could impact a young homeless person’s experience.

Approximately 120 young people completed a consultation with support from the partner organisations for YHP 2018 and these young people’s voices directly contributed to the YHP 2018 report, which was discussed with Ministers including Heather Wheeler MP.

Youth Radar - Speak up for change

For YHP 2019, Youth Voice are opening an online consultation across the country, and we want to encourage young people aged 16-25 who are experiencing homelessness and based in England to get involved. The consultation will take place throughout February via Youth Radar. Government Ministers have asked the YHP to consult and make recommendations on four topics, which will be released in “waves” on the following dates:

Wave 1 - Monday 4 February 2019, Universal Prevention

Wave 2 - Monday 11 February 2019, Targeted Prevention

Wave 3 - Monday 18 February 2019, Crisis Prevention

Wave 4 - Monday 25 February 2019, Youth Housing Offer including Temporary, Supported Accommodation, and more settled options

All four wave links will remain open until 1 March 2019, to give as many young people the opportunity to answer as possible. Direct links will be allocated per topic and shared via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and partners, to allow young people to answer questions at their own pace, wherever they are. All responses will be collated to inform the YHP 2019 report, continuing the conversation between Ministers and the YHP’s young representatives.

Together we can make a difference; the more young people involved, the louder the voice of young people who are homeless can be.

Offering the opportunity for more young people to become involved with the consultation process will ensure the YHP and the homelessness sector continue to draw on a wide range of real experiences, real stories and effective recommendations. If you are aware of a young person who is homeless that would like to share their experiences and directly impact the YHP 2019 report, please encourage them to get involved by visiting Youth Radar.