‘I survived literally’: experience of a teenager with uncontrolled housing


Before being put in assisted accommodation by the council, Hakeem had never encountered class A substances.

He was put in unregulated housing at the age of 17: shared accommodation in south-east London that became a trap house, a drug delivery and storage base, he says. He saw people come and go with knives over the next few months, and there were frequent break-ins in his home, where his PlayStation was stolen. He finally called the police, but he said that for those with whom he lived, this only made things worse. Hakeem is among thousands of children put in unregulated housing, a Guardian investigation reveals.

Council bosses complain they have nowhere else to house the most disadvantaged children because the increasing number of young people don’t have enough places. The consequence is that young people are put in households that offer treatment unlawfully, or in subsidized accommodation that is not overseen by Ofsted, like the one Hakeem was in. Coram Children’s Legal Centre represents children and young people who have been let down by the care system.

The center interviewed nine young people from migrant or refugee backgrounds, some of whom had recently arrived in the UK and others who had lived here for a long time, in a report to the Department of Education in June 2020. One of these young people who came to the United Kingdom As an unaccompanied child seeking asylum at the age of 17, multiple distinct residential homes in the U.K. were shuttled between them. With Main Work support in just one of them after arriving three years ago.

In his first hostel, which, while housing children, did not provide Key Work support, he was attacked by another young resident and frequently threatened with knives.

Since arriving in the U.K. 18 months ago, a third young person has stayed in three hostels. His first placement was extremely encouraging and included an emergency referral for treatment of trauma and PTSD due to his self-injury to child and adolescent psychiatry.

But he was soon transferred from that placement to an unregulated residential home, with no on-site support staff and no one to help him attend mental health appointments. Hakeem was shuttled between bed and breakfasts in London before landing in shared accommodation. “Bed and breakfasts were not risk assessed by social workers before young people were asked to live in them. They were dirty, unkempt and often had many drug addicts there,” he said. In these facilities, there was no place to cook food, and there was nothing nearby to buy food but a gas station. “There was nowhere to cook food in these facilities, and there was nothing nearby to buy food except a gas station. ” “The community shelter in Catford was an old house,” he said. “The problem was who I was living with. People were coming in and out … There was a guy who stole my money and my property, and even though I reported it to the police, I never got anything back. “He said another of his roommates befriended six men in the neighborhood who used the house as a place to store and sell drugs. “They had keys, and as they liked, they came and went. They had drugs and knives.

But they made it clear when I called the police that it was me who called them, and that made my life harder,’ he said. He added that he felt he should not complain about what was going on because of his safety issues. Hakeem was briefly housed eight times between the ages of 16 and 18 when he came into the family’s care, some for several months. When he was 16, his first placement was in a mother and baby unit. Unregulated homes, also known as assisted accommodation for over-16s, are not inspected in England or Wales by a regulator. Under the law, they are approved because they are eligible to provide aid, not treatment, and the young people who are put there live with a key worker for assistance semi-independently. Critics argue they are inadequate because there are no safeguards to track them and that children and young people placed in these facilities are more likely to be at risk of violence by abusers or drug gangs. I was b, b, b


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