2010 – 2013

The local context

Around 80,000 young people experience homelessness each year in the UK. Typically, they come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have suffered trauma and disruption in their childhood. This is compounded by the experience of being homeless, which has life-inhibiting economic, social and health impacts.

Our objectives

To understand the health needs and barriers to health faced by young homeless people.

To foster better mental health through creating a sense of purpose and increasing self esteem.

To enhance health professionals’ understanding of the complex health needs of young homeless people and help address them through practical advice and solutions.


Our focus

Research and develop support materials for use by professionals working with homeless young people (16-25).


Our programme

Depaul UK Services carried out comprehensive research with 130 homeless adolescents (16-25) and a control group of 200 young people from around the UK.

A health and public sector expert group then turned the research into a therapeutic approach with practical guidance and a toolkit for practitioners.

Our achievements

The research and its recommendations were captured in a report titled Making it Matter. The report was launched at a parliamentary reception in April 2012, and welcomed by the UK Health Minister who said: “[the YHP] strengthens the evidence base on health outcomes and helps highlight where…barriers still exist.”

From this we developed a standardised ‘meaningful activities toolkit’ for use by Health and Wellbeing boards, Directors of Public Health, NHS and Clinical Commissioning Boards, voluntary organisations, patient groups and others. Over 400 copies of the toolkit have been sent to senior health and social care experts.

Published resources:

Over 120 Depaul UK staff have received specialist training in the toolkit to help them better support the mental health needs of their clients, fostering better mental health by creating a sense of purpose and increasing self-esteem.

Our partners

Depaul UK is a youth homelessness charity, working with young people in crisis and beyond.