Yasmin Washbrook, Youth Voice Facilitator at St Basils Youth Voice, tells us about Youth Homeless Parliament 2019; supporting homeless young people to have their voices heard by discussing their experiences directly with Government ministers.
St Basils believe, that when young people have opportunity to positively engage within their surroundings, this can support the development of feeling valued, raising confidence and identifying aspirations; enabling the young person to feel that they can influence change personally and environmentally. One of St Basils strategic priorities is: Young people fully involved in setting standards, identifying priorities and monitoring services. Young people are encouraged to become involved with activities that will directly influence the organisation, from their accommodation, through to staff recruitment and strategic development.
St Basils adopted this idea nationally; and due to continued funding from The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly, Department for Communities and Local Government), The Youth Homeless Parliament (YHP) was established in May 2013, following a successful initial event in 2012. The YHP project enables young homeless people to have a voice and to share their experiences with politicians in Westminster.
The Youth Homeless Parliament, which is managed by St Basils but involves young representatives from a wide range of agencies, such as; Centrepoint, St Mungo’s, Depaul, YMCA England, Roundabout, Forum Housing, Youth Homeless North East and St Basils, as well as support from Homeless Link and LandAid, has continued to progress year on year. Enabling dialogue directly between Ministers, Civil Servants and young people who have experienced homelessness, contributing to the development of good practice and policy reform, to support homeless young people across England.
In 2017, the Youth Homeless Parliament were asked by The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to consult and offer key recommendations on the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Young people welcomed this opportunity to discuss priorities and develop recommendations within the YHP 2017 report for Departments across Government, which they believe could make a genuine difference.
The 2018 Youth Homeless Parliament saw Ministers request recommendations around 4 key areas including; 1. The positive impact of health and wellbeing services for young people, prior to becoming or during their homelessness journey; 2. Barriers to accessing health services, for young people and ways in which technology could help reduce these; 3. The impact of social media on a young person’s health and wellbeing, prior to or during their homelessness journey; and 4. Ways in which Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender + status could impact a young homeless person’s experience.
Approximately 120 young homeless people completed the consultation with support from the partner organisations for Youth homeless Parliament 2018. The voices of these young people directly contributed to the YHP 2018 report discussed with Ministers including Heather Wheeler MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government).