Young people share their experiences of homelessness after fleeing violence and crime through art
Commonweal Housing recently held a Celebration of Partnerships event, showcasing a powerful and thought-provoking art display depicting young people’s experience of homelessness after fleeing violence and crime.
The exhibition “Tackling Youth Homelessness in London, Together” was designed by young people accessing Gateway, a specialist enhanced liaison and diversion (L&D) service launched by the Barnet, Enfield, and Haringey NHS Trust, and one of Commonweal’s newest project partners. The service provides psychologically informed, multi-level well-being interventions for 10 to 25-year-olds presenting within the court and police custody in the local community.
The artwork portrays the unseen barriers, challenges and biases faced by young people accessing homelessness services and the relationship between trauma, homelessness and mental health. The display seeks to challenge professionals to think beyond any assumptions they may hold about young adults involved in youth violence or offending.
Although losing accommodation due to ‘threats of violence’ is listed as a category of ‘priority need’ within the Homelessness Guidance, the majority of young people fleeing youth or community violence are initially rejected by local authorities as ‘not priority need’ for housing.
Despite presenting to their local authorities and within health and social care services multiple times, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of young people had received no housing support before working with Gateway and Project Future.
Commonweal partnered with Gateway as part of Call for new Ideas 2021, the charity’s partnership programme established to test new ideas that seek housing-based solutions to social injustices. With funding and support from Commonweal, Gateway conducted a short-term feasibility study investigating the viability of trauma support housing for young adults exposed to gang violence.
The housing model is set to transition into a property-based project piloting trauma-support housing for young men aged 22-30 involved in criminal justice and affected by serious youth violence. The model was co-developed with young adults experiencing gang affiliation and homelessness, enabling them to design services that best meet their needs.
Over the coming years, following Commonweal’s work with Gateway, the charity will concentrate efforts on the injustices facing young adults and those facing difficult transitions to adulthood. Likewise, the criminal justice system will remain a core policy area of the charity, with a specific focus on the over-representation of ethnic minorities and issues surrounding youth justice.
Amy Doyle, Deputy Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “I would like to thank all the young people from Gateway for sharing their powerful display with us. Commonweal is keen to support partners beyond feasibility studies and piloting housing projects. To help shine a light on the issues and evoke change, we want to offer our partners a platform to share stories and experiences from those affected by social injustices.”