Research Suggests Mediation could Save Thousands of Scotland

Every year in Scotland, 6,000 young people (16 – 24 years old) become homeless in Scotland because the relationship with their family breaks down.  (1) 

Yet thousands of them could be saved from the trauma of homelessness each year if services to mediate between them and their families were better funded, more joined up and available consistently in the right time and place. 

That’s according to a new report out today (Thursday) which puts mediation services in Scotland over the last decade under the microscope in the first-ever in-depth study of its kind. (2) 

And by stopping young people ending up on the street, or living in temporary housing, Scotland would save not just human misery but money too. 

The report – Mediation and Homelessness Prevention in Scotland: A decade of mediation between young people and their families – looks at provision across Scotland’s mediation projects over the past 10 years. 

The year-long study was carried out by the Edinburgh Cyrenians’ Amber Mediation Service – Scotland’s longest running dedicated mediation and homelessness prevention service for young people. (3) 

Based on interviews with mediation providers across Scotland, the research report makes a number of strong recommendations to Scottish policy makers, local authority commissioners and mediation practitioners – as well as the education sector.  It will be presented to MSPs and those working with young people at the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday). (4) 

Speaking about the Edinburgh Cyrenians’ report, Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “Young single people are those most likely to become homeless, usually because their relationship with their family has broken down – yet with the right support many of these breakdowns are preventable. We know how important it is to young people's mental wellbeing and life chances to have a stable and secure place to call 'home'. 

“This report challenges policy makers and local authorities and other service providers to properly support troubled families, to prevent homelessness and all its attendant problems and consequences for young people in Scotland.” 

Over a third of young people say that reconciliation with their family could have been possible and yet many young people who had become homeless as a result of relationship breakdown have no knowledge of mediation services. (5) 

Mediation is unique in leading families to their own solutions which are more likely to stick than decisions imposed by others such as homeless officers. As relationships are strengthened, often families find a young person can stay at home or even return home, thus preventing homelessness. Even if a young person does move out, having the support of their family can be crucial in helping them to keep their home.

 Emma Dore, the report’s author and Development Worker for Amber, said: “Mediation has become an accepted part of the way we help prevent homelessness since the first project started 10 years ago. 

“Yet every year 6,000 young people across Scotland face the nightmare of homelessness because the relationship with their family falls apart. For many it can become a cycle of homelessness, which significantly affects their life chances. That’s a tragedy we can avoid by making mediation available to young people and their families before it’s too late.” 

She added: “There is strong evidence that as well as saving misery, preventing homelessness saves money. Early intervention is the most effective way of working with young people and their families. It makes sense, despite restricted budgets, to invest in well-designed mediation services to stop homelessness before it happens.” 

Ian McDonough, Chair, Scottish Centre for Community Mediation, welcomed the report, saying it had “huge value”. He said: “Young people and their families are experiencing high levels of pressure. Unemployment is rising, there is a shortage of affordable accommodation, and incomes are falling at the same time as basic living costs are rising. So, it’s little wonder that families sometimes run into difficulties. 

“When these difficulties grow so severe that the young person feels unable to stay at home, the consequences can be drastic. This report offers a way forward for practically assisting young people and their families in their struggle to weather a hostile social and economic climate.” 

The report highlights a number of key areas for politicians, policy makers and those working with young people, including: 

  • Earlier Intervention – There must be wider awareness amongst all services working with young people, from schools to GPs, of factors that suggest a young person is at risk of homelessness, such as truancy, and how they can refer them onto homelessness prevention services. 
  • Available to under-16s – Research shows large numbers of young people under 16 run away each year after family conflict – and later go onto become homeless. Currently most services are only offered to over 16s, leaving many young people falling through a gap. This must be filled and services made available to a younger generation. 
  • Quality and accountability – Services should be registered with the Scottish Mediation Register and monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator to ensure high quality, consistent services. 
  • Best practice network – Provision for sharing best practice is patchy and the report recommends a national network to include mediators from local authorities and homelessness organisations to share strategic and operational lessons learnt. 
  • More funding – More money must be invested in mediation and its development to tackle the problem of youth homelessness. The vast majority of mediation services are local authority funded, so for many services the future is dependent on a shrinking pot of money. 

Daniel Coote, Policy Officer, Scottish Council for Single Homeless, said: “Homeless prevention is at the top of the agenda and mediation has been proven to play a significant part. This research provides a useful resource for practitioners wanting to positively influence good practice and learn from past experiences. It will also assist local authorities and other commissioners to develop homelessness prevention services.”

 /ends

 Notes to Editors 

(1)    Every year in Scotland, on average 13,350 young people (16-24 years-old) become homeless. 6,000 (45 per cent) were living with their families and have become homeless due to relationship breakdown. Source: Scottish Government.

(2)    An Executive Summary of the report can be downloaded from here

(3)    The Amber Project is an Edinburgh Cyrenians’ service, set up in Edinburgh in 2006. It couples mediation with high quality support for the whole family. Ever year the team works with around 100 families to prevent young people becoming homeless. Edinburgh Cyrenians is an independent charity that has been working to prevent and alleviate poverty and homelessness since 1968. www.cyrenians.org.uk

(4)    MSPs and other groups working with young people have been invited to a special reception at the Scottish Parliament to hear about and discuss the findings of the report.

(5)    Randall, G. and Brown, S., Trouble at Home: Family Conflict, Young People and Homelessness, Crisis, 2001. Available at http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/document_library/research/troubleathome_full.pdf

(6)    The Amber Project is funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, The Big Lottery , Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Rayne Foundation

(7)    There have been 43 mediation services in total in ten years, with 23 currently in existence, operating across Scotland.

(8)    Mediation is currently delivered by organisations like Relationships Scotland (family mediation), SACRO (community mediation), voluntary sector homeless organisations, and through councils.

Every year in Scotland, 6,000 young people (16 – 24 years old) become homeless in Scotland because the relationship with their family breaks down.  (1)

 

Yet thousands of them could be saved from the trauma of homelessness each year if services to mediate between them and their families were better funded, more joined up and available consistently in the right time and place.

 

That’s according to a new report out today (Thursday) which puts mediation services in Scotland over the last decade under the microscope in the first-ever in-depth study of its kind. (2)

 

And by stopping young people ending up on the street, or living in temporary housing, Scotland would save not just human misery but money too.

 

The report – Mediation and Homelessness Prevention in Scotland: A decade of mediation between young people and their families – looks at provision across Scotland’s mediation projects over the past 10 years.

 

The year-long study was carried out by the Edinburgh Cyrenians’ Amber Mediation Service – Scotland’s longest running dedicated mediation and homelessness prevention service for young people. (3)

 

Based on interviews with mediation providers across Scotland, the research report makes a number of strong recommendations to Scottish policy makers, local authority commissioners and mediation practitioners – as well as the education sector.  It will be presented to MSPs and those working with young people at the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday). (4)

 

Speaking about the Edinburgh Cyrenians’ report, Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “Young single people are those most likely to become homeless, usually because their relationship with their family has broken down – yet with the right support many of these breakdowns are preventable. We know how important it is to young people's mental wellbeing and life chances to have a stable and secure place to call 'home'.

 

“This report challenges policy makers and local authorities and other service providers to properly support troubled families, to prevent homelessness and all its attendant problems and consequences for young people in Scotland.”

 

 

Over a third of young people say that reconciliation with their family could have been possible and yet many young people who had become homeless as a result of relationship breakdown have no knowledge of mediation services. (5)

 

Mediation is unique in leading families to their own solutions which are more likely to stick than decisions imposed by others such as homeless officers. As relationships are strengthened, often families find a young person can stay at home or even return home, thus preventing homelessness. Even if a young person does move out, having the support of their family can be crucial in helping them to keep their home.

 

Emma Dore, the report’s author and Development Worker for Amber, said: “Mediation has become an accepted part of the way we help prevent homelessness since the first project started 10 years ago.

 

“Yet every year 6,000 young people across Scotland face the nightmare of homelessness because the relationship with their family falls apart. For many it can become a cycle of homelessness, which significantly affects their life chances. That’s a tragedy we can avoid by making mediation available to young people and their families before it’s too late.”

 

She added: “There is strong evidence that as well as saving misery, preventing homelessness saves money. Early intervention is the most effective way of working with young people and their families. It makes sense, despite restricted budgets, to invest in well-designed mediation services to stop homelessness before it happens.”

 

Ian McDonough, Chair, Scottish Centre for Community Mediation, welcomed the report, saying it had “huge value”. He said: “Young people and their families are experiencing high levels of pressure. Unemployment is rising, there is a shortage of affordable accommodation, and incomes are falling at the same time as basic living costs are rising. So, it’s little wonder that families sometimes run into difficulties.

 

“When these difficulties grow so severe that the young person feels unable to stay at home, the consequences can be drastic. This report offers a way forward for practically assisting young people and their families in their struggle to weather a hostile social and economic climate.”

 

The report highlights a number of key areas for politicians, policy makers and those working with young people, including:

 

  • Earlier Intervention – There must be wider awareness amongst all services working with young people, from schools to GPs, of factors that suggest a young person is at risk of homelessness, such as truancy, and how they can refer them onto homelessness prevention services.

 

  • Available to under-16s – Research shows large numbers of young people under 16 run away each year after family conflict – and later go onto become homeless. Currently most services are only offered to over 16s, leaving many young people falling through a gap. This must be filled and services made available to a younger generation.

 

  • Quality and accountability – Services should be registered with the Scottish Mediation Register and monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator to ensure high quality, consistent services.

 

  • Best practice network – Provision for sharing best practice is patchy and the report recommends a national network to include mediators from local authorities and homelessness organisations to share strategic and operational lessons learnt.

 

  • More funding – More money must be invested in mediation and its development to tackle the problem of youth homelessness. The vast majority of mediation services are local authority funded, so for many services the future is dependent on a shrinking pot of money.

 

Daniel Coote, Policy Officer, Scottish Council for Single Homeless, said: “Homeless prevention is at the top of the agenda and mediation has been proven to play a significant part. This research provides a useful resource for practitioners wanting to positively influence good practice and learn from past experiences. It will also assist local authorities and other commissioners to develop homelessness prevention services.”

 

/ends

 

Notes to Editors

 

(1)    Every year in Scotland, on average 13,350 young people (16-24 years-old) become homeless. 6,000 (45 per cent) were living with their families and have become homeless due to relationship breakdown. Source: Scottish Government.

(2)    An Executive Summary of the report can be downloaded from here

(3)    The Amber Project is an Edinburgh Cyrenians’ service, set up in Edinburgh in 2006. It couples mediation with high quality support for the whole family. Ever year the team works with around 100 families to prevent young people becoming homeless. Edinburgh Cyrenians is an independent charity that has been working to prevent and alleviate poverty and homelessness since 1968. www.cyrenians.org.uk

(4)    MSPs and other groups working with young people have been invited to a special reception at the Scottish Parliament to hear about and discuss the findings of the report.

(5)    Randall, G. and Brown, S., Trouble at Home: Family Conflict, Young People and Homelessness, Crisis, 2001. Available at http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/document_library/research/troubleathome_full.pdf

(6)    The Amber Project is funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, The Big Lottery , Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Rayne Foundation

(7)    There have been 43 mediation services in total in ten years, with 23 currently in existence, operating across Scotland.

(8)    Mediation is currently delivered by organisations like Relationships Scotland (family mediation), SACRO (community mediation), voluntary sector homeless organisations, and through councils.

Contact: Christina Cran
Phone: 07725 316 513

Website: http://www.cyrenians.org.uk