We’re very pleased to see Shelter Cymru raising the issue of young people being evicted from supported accommodation, something which Llamau has long tried to avoid. Llamau fully supports this very important campaign.

Llamau has taken a trauma-informed approach to delivering support to young people in supported accommodation for over 30 years, and we recruit and train colleagues who can understand that young people’s behaviours are driven by their often very traumatic childhood experiences. Colleagues are trained and supported to take an understanding and psychologically informed approach to supporting young people and to find as many ways as possible to ensure young people can continue living safely in supported accommodation.

Llamau works with many young people who have been evicted from or refused other supported accommodation. Last year, Llamau’s eviction rate was 3.8% - whilst this is very low, it still means we were unable to safely support 11 young people in our supported accommodation.  We are working to reduce that figure as ultimately, we want to see no young people evicted from our supported accommodation.

Llamau’s values have always meant that we never give up on the people we support and will only ever evict a young person from our supported accommodation as an absolute last resort. When we do reach the point where we are left with no choice but to evict a young person in order to protect the safety of other people, and after all other options have been exhausted, we always try to ensure that they can either move into another of Llamau’s supported accommodation projects or into another provider’s project. Importantly, we work closely with a range of agencies and partners to ensure that young people are not left without a home. For us, it is extremely important that no young person is ever evicted into homelessness.

However, we will only be able to achieve this if we all – government, local authorities, other providers – work together and put the interests of every young person at the heart of what we do.

As Shelter Cymru’s report highlights, there are a number of areas that need to be addressed, if we as a sector are to ensure that no young person is evicted into homelessness:

  • Supported Accommodation needs to receive appropriate levels of funding, which would enable providers to provide adequate staffing levels and appropriate levels of support to colleagues who are often at risk of burnout and vicarious trauma. At Llamau we are committed to ensuring that all of our services are fully Psychologically Informed and have employed Clinical Psychologists to support this. The cost of this approach is not paid for through local authority contracts but is covered by voluntary funding sourced by Llamau. Not only do contracts with local authorities often not cover these costs, but they often only cover 80-85% of the costs of actually delivering the services. Without proper funding of supported accommodation, it is becoming increasingly impossible to recruit and retain skilled colleagues who will be able to support young people in such a way so as to avoid evictions into homelessness.

  • Supported Accommodation needs to ensure young people feel safe so that they have a chance to thrive. At Llamau, we only deliver support to young people in small houses rather than big hostels because young people have told us that this is so important in feeling that they have a safe home. Communal living can be hard for anyone, and the more people we ask to live harmoniously together, the more likely it is for the young person to feel unsafe and to display behaviours to protect themselves which could be perceived by providers as anti-social and lead to evictions. Smaller projects undoubtedly cost more in the short-term but in order to deliver the long-term goal of reducing homelessness, we must ensure that young people feel safe and at home, so that they have a platform which allows them to thrive.

  • Affordable move-on options are needed for young people, both into the private rented sector and into social housing. A lack of affordable housing options often results in young people becoming understandably frustrated that they are unable to move on from supported accommodation even when they are ready.

  • Supported accommodation costs need to be reviewed as rental costs are often so high that it can often be a barrier to young people working. While we always encourage young people to look for work, we recognise that if they take on work while in supported accommodation, they can be unfairly penalised and have to cover significant rental costs out of their often low wages. Our support always focuses on ensuring that young people spend their time in supported accommodation getting ready for work – developing skills and confidence and achieving accreditations – but we would urge Welsh Government to work with Housing Associations to look at what can be done to reduce the rental and service charge levels in supported accommodation.

  • Providers and local authorities must work together across contracts to ensure that young people avoid eviction into homelessness. We provide supported accommodation for young people in a range of local authorities across Wales, and in order to ensure the best outcomes for young people, local authorities must do more to manage the range of providers in their areas to ensure that there are alternative accommodation options for young people in the event that a young person can no longer remain in their existing supported accommodation. We already work with a number of providers to ensure this happens, often taking referrals from other providers who have reached the point where they have decided to evict the young person. However, it is clear to us that more needs to be done to ensure that all providers are willing to take this approach if we are to ensure that no young person in Wales is evicted into homelessness.

You can read the full report and support the campaign at https://sheltercymru.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/stop-the-cycle/