There has been a change in the age when most people leave home with many people not moving out until they are in their 20s. Despite this some teenagers and their parents think it is fine to move out at 16. For most this is too young to be able to live independently; managing a home, money, education or work is very difficult without support. Even though families may fall out, it is nearly always better to stay at home until 18 or over. Parents are legally responsible for teenagers until they are 18.
There is plenty of support to help young people remain at home or to return home if they become homeless before they are 18. On the other hand there is also help if it is really unsafe to be at home.
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should go to speak to an Adviser at your local Youth Support Centre - they can support you with advice and information.
They will talk to you to find out more about your situation. If it will not put you at risk, they will also ask your permission to contact your parents to find out more about what is happening and whether there is anything that can be done to support you returning home. They can also refer to services such as Family Mediation. The possibility of staying with relatives will also be discussed and explored with you.
When there are risks to you at home and you feel you need to move out for your own safety and there do not appear to be any other options, the Youth Support Service will refer your case to Social Care. They will do a more detailed assessment of your situation and will look at other types of support such as the Family Support Service. In exceptional circumstances, where there are no realistic alternatives, they will also start to talk to you about being looked after by the local authority. This could be in a foster or children's home or more likely in some form of supported living. You will receive an allowance from Social Care and be allocated a Social Care worker to support you.
If after going through this process you decide you do not want to be looked after by the local authority, and if you believe you can manage on your own, you can apply to your local Housing Authority to see if they can find you somewhere to live. They will want to see Social Care's assessment and to find out more about why you cannot live at home and do not want to be looked after. The Youth Support Service will continue to be available to help you and there may still be a role for Social Care, especially if you change your mind or your circumstances change.
If you are 18 or over
Contact the housing advice team at your local council. They will be able to discuss your options with you. They may also be able to put you on the long-term list for housing or refer you to appropriate projects and hostels.
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