Local Solutions, a Liverpool-based charity, has been working in the field of youth homelessness since 1986. It provides a range of accommodation and support services across the North West including a hostel and six Supported Lodgings services (where a young person lives in the home of a householder in the community). In total, there are 165 accommodation places available and in a typical year Local Solutions will provide accommodation and support interventions for over 300 young people in need.
Local Solutions’ experience of helping homeless young people is that there is a persistent cohort of individuals that are referred to them on multiple occasions, often over a period of years. These are young people who seem not to make any progress out of homelessness, but instead move between various short-term accommodation options. This is not due to a lack of support. Indeed many of these young people are accessing numerous services and engaging with significant numbers of professionals, but somehow this multitude of interventions fails to produce positive outcomes or achieve sustainable change.
In an attempt to break this cycle, in 2009 Local Solutions established the Intense Mentoring service, which supports these challenging and damaged young people, helping them to move out of dependency. It is a practice model aiming to break the cycle of exclusion by delivering intense and sustained one-to-one support. It works to bring these vulnerable young people to a position of independence that includes stable relationships, accommodation, training and employment.
The service began with funding from the JP Getty Jnr Trust. Subsequently, the Comino Foundation provided further funding, enabling two full time Mentors to be employed to work with the young people. Additional elements of the service are also supported by other trusts, enabling some personal development activities to be offered in addition to one-to-one mentoring.
On 5/6th September 2012, a 24 hour consultation was held at St George’s House, Windsor Castle. The consultation was hosted by the Comino Foundation.
The purposes of the consultation were:
- to share with participants the outcomes of a particular approach to working with young homeless people in one local context – Liverpool
- to invite participants to set this work alongside other similar ventures and identify significant common features in the approaches used
- to provide an opportunity for participants to consider together any wider implications for practice, policy and funding
- to establish networks of organisations using comparable approaches, to share practice and to accelerate change in delivering effective models of support.
(Above) Participants in the consultation at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, October 2012.