Sue Kellie: How nurses can help homeless young people
Nurses can help homeless young people find a solution to physical and mental health problem by signposting them to a helpline at Centrepoint, says the charity’s national head of health Sue Kellie.
Nurses can help homeless young people find a solution to physical and mental health problem by signposting them to a helpline at Centrepoint, says the charity’s national head of health Sue Kellie
As a leading UK charity for homeless young people, Centrepoint supports more than 9,200 people aged 16-25 year each year. In addition to providing a safe bed for the night, we help young people turn their lives around by gaining essential life skills, tackling their physical and mental health issues, and moving into education or employment.
Our research shows that 150,000 young people a year approach their local council for help with housing, but at least a third are turned away without receiving support.
Most are unable to rely on their family because a breakdown in such relationships is the most common reason why they find themselves homeless.
Whatever the circumstances, the damage homelessness causes to the physical and mental health of young people can be far-reaching, affecting their view of the world and feelings of self-worth and confidence.
Nurses often see the consequences of homelessness firsthand, and are among a few uniquely placed professionals who can make a real difference in helping those who cannot help themselves.
That is why we are calling on the nursing profession to help spread the word about the Centrepoint helpline, the first of its kind in the UK. Launched in February, it is a single source of housing advice for those who are young and homeless. However, not enough people are aware of its existence and the crucial support it can offer.
The helpline is run by a team of 18 staff and volunteers. Trained in housing and children’s law, they also bring their own experiences of navigating the public services system.
Each caller receives personally tailored advice based on their housing needs, as well as help in accessing mental health support, education and training, and family counselling.
Homelessness can be extremely damaging, both physically and emotionally. Nurses can make a huge difference to the lives of homeless young people by making them aware of the Centrepoint helpline, a vital service that will radically change the system for homeless young people and help ensure they get the support they so urgently need.
The Centrepoint helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and is free to call on 0808 800 0661.
Sue Kellie is national head of health at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint