- In Wales, the human rights of children are recognised and government must have ‘due regard’ to the requirements of the UNCRC
- You have a right to be cared for and to an adequate standard of living
- If you’re out on the street because you can’t go home and you’re under 18, you should be able to get help and support
If you’re under 18, the UNCRC applies to you. Normally, parents look after children and provide them with a safe place to live. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen, so the local authority where you live should look after you instead. This might be foster care or in a children’s home. Sometimes, though, even this doesn’t work out. If you feel that you can’t live with your parents or stay in the arrangements that the Local authority made for you for some reason – either you can’t get on with the people you’re supposed to live with or you’re being hurt or abused. If you feel you have nowhere to go and end up on the street, you still have your rights, and the local authority and other organisations should help make sure you are safe and have somewhere appropriate to live.
If you’re 16 or 17, and homeless, or at risk of being homeless, you are counted as being a ‘priority need’ – which means you are someone who should have particular help to get suitable accommodation.
Every local authority in Wales has to run a free information and advice service to help you find out about your housing rights and getting somewhere to live.
You have to apply to the Local authority and they will do an assessment to see if you’re eligible for accommodation. The Local authority will make an assessment of all your needs – not just your need for housing, but your need for support so that you can stay living in that accommodation.
The local authority should find somewhere for you to live temporarily while your assessment for housing takes place.
If you are assessed for housing, the local authority will ask about why you are homeless or threatened with homelessness. If you don’t want to go home because you are at risk of abuse, the Local authority should provide you with accommodation.
No one can make you go back home once you are 16 – but the local authority may try and help you sort things out (if this is possible) so that you can live with your family, or in the foster care or children’s home where you have been living.
If you are younger than 16, and you end up on the street, the local authority should look after you and make arrangements for you to have somewhere safe to live while they sort out what has happened. They should listen to you and make sure that they make decisions in your best interests. If this means that you shouldn’t go back to your parents or carers, then they need to find somewhere else safe for you to live.
Ultimately, no one can make you live somewhere you don’t want to live, or stop you living somewhere. At the moment, it’s not illegal to sleep on the street. Local authorities have powers to ban some activities, including rough sleeping, in particular areas, but using these powers too widely could lead to a breach of your human rights.