Housing advice for young people

This information is for young people living in Surrey who are experiencing homelessness or having problems living at home.

If you are an adult and you need housing advice or help with homelessness, you should contact your District or Borough Council for information and support.

What to do if you have nowhere to stay tonight

If you are a young person, under the age of 18, and you are worried about where you are going to stay tonight, contact Surrey Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) by phone on 0300 470 9100 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or send an email to cspa@surreycc.gov.uk.

If you need to contact someone outside of these times, call the Emergency Duty Team on 01483 517898.

I feel unsafe at home

If you are living in fear because someone is being violent or abusive towards you, you must seek help immediately. There are several agencies who can assist you, including by finding you a safe place to go.

  • Get yourself to a place of safety, either by calling the police or going to the home of a friend or relative you trust who can support you
  • Make sure you take essentials with you, e.g. medication, money/ bank cards, ID (passport, driving licence etc.), mobile phone, change of clothes and other important personal items
  • If you are under 18 years of age, contact Surrey Children's Services Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) for an assessment
  • If you are 18 or over, find your local Housing Options team and contact them for a housing options interview
  • Get in contact with an organisation that supports victims of abuse

If you are in immediate danger, call the Emergency Services on 999.

I have been asked to leave home/ kicked out

If you are 16 or 17 and have been asked to leave home, or it is unsafe for you to be there, you can get help. If you are under 18 and homeless, it is likely that you will be considered a 'child in need' by children's services.

In this situation, children's services must find you somewhere to stay and consider what support (including financial) you might need. This applies regardless of your nationality or immigration status.

You should ask for help as soon as possible so that support can be given to return home if it is safe for you to do so. If you cannot return home, you can get support with your accommodation.

You can contact Surrey's Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) by phone on 0300 470 9100 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or send an email to cspa@surreycc.gov.uk. If you need to contact someone outside of these times, call the Emergency Duty Team on 01483 517898.

I am already homeless

You don't have to sleep on the street to be homeless. You are legally homeless if where you're staying is unsafe, unsuitable or if you have no legal right to stay there. You could be homeless if you're staying with friends temporarily because, for example, you're escaping from abuse or the risk of violence

If you find yourself in this situation seek advice and support, either by contacting the Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA), if you're under-18, or by talking to your local Housing Options team.

I am staying with friends/ sofa surfing

Sofa surfing is defined as "staying temporarily with various friends and/or relatives while attempting to find permanent accommodation".

Many young people who find themselves with nowhere to live or stay find themselves 'sofa surfing'. You might not literally be sleeping on a sofa. You could be staying on the floor or in a spare room. You might be staying with someone for one night, a few days, even weeks at a time.

Although this might be a better option than living in an unsafe or abusive environment, it can have a negative impact on your day-to-day life:

  • Young people who sofa surf for long periods of time often find it difficult to keep going to college or to work
  • Keeping in contact with close friends and family and keeping up with other things you need to do might be difficult, because you have to spend time finding the next place to stay
  • Eating can become a problem when young people feel uncomfortable eating other people's food
  • Young people may end up staying with people they do not know well. This can put you in danger

If you are in this situation you should get housing advice and support, so that you can get help to find permanent accommodation or a safe place to stay long term.

But if you do find yourself needing to sofa-surf, then you may find the following tips helpful:

  • Try to sort out where you are going to stay the day before you need it. If you leave it too late to contact a friend or relative, then you could find yourself with nowhere to go
  • If you are staying in your friends' parents' house, ask the parents if it's ok to stay. Don't rely on your friends say so.
  • If your friend lives in a housing project and you want to stay with them, check with the staff at the project first. Some young people who don't ask permission or do it too many times get asked to leave their housing project. That will mean that both you and your friend will be without anywhere to stay

I want to leave home

Leaving home is a big decision. There may be many reasons why you want to move out.

You may want more freedom to come home later or have friends round when you want. You may want more space and independence. But before making your move, you need to consider whether you are financially and emotionally ready to leave home.

A planned move is always best. It can sometimes be quite difficult to find somewhere to live. It might not be near your family and friends. You will have responsibilities that you probably haven't had before, for example:

  • paying rent and dealing with a landlord or other residents
  • choosing utility companies and paying the bills e.g. gas and electricity
  • maintaining and cleaning your accommodation
  • laundry, ironing, shopping and cooking for yourself
  • looking after your health, wellbeing and security
  • budgeting, organising your money carefully – you might find you can't afford new clothes and to go out with friends as often

The best way to leave home is after careful thought and planning. Be patient. Talk things through with your parents/ carers. How could you have more freedom and flexibility? Leaving home at a young age, especially if you have nowhere to go, should the last option that you should consider. This could lead to homelessness.

Most young people in the UK today do not leave home until they are 24-years-old.

Things you can do to prepare to move out:

  • Talk to your parent/s or carers
  • Get some advice from specialist agencies
  • Sort out your finances
  • Plan what you'll need to do

How you can improve your living situation before moving out:

  • If you have family problems it may be better to try and sort them out, if you can, or get someone to help you. Pick a calm moment for a chat.
  • Talk to a friend, relative, teacher, counsellor, doctor or anyone that you trust. Who in your network can help you?
  • Give yourself some time out – get out with friends, do some things away from home. Is there anyone you can stay with for a night or two to get some space?
  • Get help from a professional mediation service. This is talking with someone outside of the family, a third person, called a mediator. The mediator does not take sides but will help everyone involved to talk about how they are feeling and help find solutions to their problems.
  • Look at your own behaviour and how it may be contributing to the problems you are having.
  • Learn more about the changes happening in your brain during as a teenager and young person. Our Place offers an online course for teenagers, called 'Understanding your brain: for teenagers only!'. You can access the course for free, using the access code ACORN.

Understanding the adolescent brain

Where to go for advice:

Surrey County Council Children's Services

If you are under-18 and homeless or your living situation is not safe, then it is likely that you are considered a 'child at risk'. In this situation, Children's Services have a legal responsibility to help you. You can contact Surrey Children's Services using the information below:

C-SPA, Children's Services Single Point of Access:

  • Request for Support Team (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Phone: 0300 470 9100
  • Email: cspa@surreycc.gov.uk - emails are dealt with during normal office hours
  • Out of Hours phone: 01483 517898 to speak to the Emergency Duty Team.

Surrey's Local Authority Housing Options Teams:

If you are over-18, your local Housing Options Team may be able to offer advice and support.

North West:

  • Runnymede: 01932 838383
  • Surrey Heath: 01276 707100
  • Woking: 01483 743 834

North East:

  • Spelthorne: 01784 446383
  • Elmbridge: 01372 474590
  • Epsom & Ewell: 01372 732000

South West:

  • Guildford: 01483 444244
  • Waverley: 01483 523188

South East:

  • Mole Valley: 01306 885001
  • Reigate & Banstead: 01737 276790
  • Tandridge: 01883 722000

Other organisations that can give support and housing advice:

Centrepoint:

  • Homeless or at risk? We're here for you. We offer advice to anyone in England aged 16 to 25.
  • Freephone number: 0808 800 0661 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • Centrepoint website

Shelter

  • Homelessness charity which offers a free 24-hour helpline giving information on housing.
  • Freephone number: 0808 800 4444.
  • Shelter website

Coram Voice

  • Coram Voice offer advocacy for children and young people. Advocacy means someone to support, speak or write on your behalf.
  • Freephone number: 0808 800 5792
  • Coram Voice website

Organisations supporting victims of abuse:

If you are in immediate danger, call Emergency Services 999. If you are not in immediate danger, but need help with an abusive living situation you can get support and advice from the organisations below:

Organisations offering financial advice:

Citizens Advice

  • Citizens Advice is a charity offering free, confidential, independent and impartial advice. They provide information and advice on lots of different issues including money, benefit, housing or employment problems.
  • Telephone: 03444 111 444
  • Citizens Advice website

Job Centre Plus

  • Jobcentre Plus is a government agency supporting people of working age. They provide advice on jobs and training for people who can work and financial help (benefits) for those who cannot.
  • Telephone: 0800 055 6688
  • Job Centre Plus website

Other useful links:

  • Runaway Helpline is here if you are thinking about running away, if you have already run away, or if you have been away and come back. You can call or text for free, 24 hours a day, the number is 116 000
  • Step by Step provides free and confidential advice and information on a range of issues, including housing and homelessness
  • Talk to Frank has advice and information on drugs and their effects
  • Victim Support gives advice and support for crime victims