It has been a difficult year for everybody as we have faced numerous lockdowns and ongoing social distancing measures introduced as a result of Covid-19. Over the last year, we have remained at home to protect one another, especially the elderly and those most vulnerable. But what happened to those who did not have a home or those who were already at risk of homelessness when the pandemic hit? Particularly young people, who may have faced housing instability due to family and domestic issues – where did they have to go to stay safe and warm? 

The world as we knew it changed in early 2020 and it has been an incredibly difficult time for all, especially young people facing or at risk of homelessness. When the government introduced the first national lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus, it became impossible for young people to sofa surf with family and friends. This safety net that had often rescued so many of these young individuals from sleeping rough on the streets was now removed. 

For young individuals at risk of homelessness, many of whom have already suffered severe trauma and/or emotional distress, the past year may have heightened mental health and wellbeing issues. Similarly, where these young people may have relied on family and friends for essentials such as food and drink, the pandemic restricted the availability and accessibility of such support. This is reflected in the growing demand and pressure placed on homelessness support services for food and assistance. Despite the government’s £20 per-week uplift in Universal Credit since April 2020, there has been a significant increase in young people requiring emergency food support. 

However, lack of sustainable housing and food insecurity are not the only issues that impact young people facing homelessness. During the pandemic, unemployment has increased across all age groups. However, young people have been particularly affected by unemployment and lack of job opportunities since Covid-19 first spread throughout the U.K. Centrepoint, one of the U.K.’s leading charities working with homeless people aged 16-25, recently conducted research into youth homelessness and the pandemic and recorded that Covid-19 has already led to major increases in youth unemployment. The charity has revealed that the unemployment rate for 16–24-year-olds was 14.3% in November 2020-January 2021, a significant rise from 11.7% at the same time in the previous year.  

To support young people facing homelessness, Liverpool-based Pathway Homes Group (PHG) has pledged a percentage of their profits into projects that will positively impact the individuals housed in the properties they have developed. As well as providing ongoing donations to charities and community groups throughout the country, one particular project the developer has agreed to support is the sponsorship of an educational and skills provider. The programmes available give young people the chance to access training and educational courses to enhance their skills and knowledge and make the right progress towards securing employment. 

Rhodri Andrews, Marketing and Communications Manager at PHG stated: “as lockdown measures are slowly beginning to ease, we all must support those who have suffered during and as a result of the pandemic. Pathway Homes Group takes our responsibility to help others seriously. We believe that by delivering other opportunities for those most in need, as well as the sustainable and quality housing that we are often recognised for, we are helping young people to break the cycle of homelessness”. 

For more information on youth homelessness and unemployment as a result of Covid-19, please read Centrepoint’s important research report: a-year-like-no-other.pdf (centrepoint.org.uk)