End Youth Homelessness Cymru is a partnership of five homelessness organisations in Wales, working with vulnerable young people. Working together, Llamau, Adref, GISDA, Dewis and Swansea Young Single Homeless Project (SYSHP) want to end the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for young people that comes through local authority care.
Currently, legislation allows local authorities to place homeless 16-17 year olds within B&B accommodation on an emergency basis. End Youth Homelessness Cymru has expressed concern over the use of these B&Bs to house recently released offenders alongside vulnerable young people, putting them at unacceptable risk of abuse or exploitation.
The campaign gained widespread attention in 2016 after actor Michael Sheen got involved. After visiting one of the homelessness organisations involved, he launched the petition, signed by over 100,000 people, which got the attention of the Welsh government.
As a result of the campaign, the government has now changed its guidance for local authorities around the use of B&B accommodation specifying that it should only ever be used as a last resort.
Llamau Chief Executive Frances Beecher says they are still campaigning hard to ensure vulnerable young people are placed in more appropriate emergency accommodation and end the use of B&Bs altogether. The partnership is also working with young people to establish a national helpline. The team has launched a petition calling on the UK government to invest in a new UK wide service providing free, accessible and consistent support via phone, app and online, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“Our motto is that we’re not here to assume we have all the answers about how things should be done,” she says. “We’re here to amplify the voice of the young people affected, rather than to speak for them.”