The Power of Personalised Support for Young People

Thursday, 4 July 2019 - 12:08pm

One Housing helps people to live better by providing high quality homes and care across London and the South East. They manage approximately 16,000 homes and support over 9,000 people to live independently.

It is estimated that 103,000 young people in the UK presented to their council as homeless or at risk in the last year.[1] There is no one story behind this statistic but thousands of young people each with a unique set of circumstances which led to the crisis of them being without a safe place to call home.

It is therefore vital that our response to youth homelessness is flexible and adaptable to ensure that every young person gets the personalised support they need. That’s why we developed Whites Row Assessment Centre, one of our flagship homelessness services, in partnership with Tower Hamlets council.

One Housing’s innovative housing and care schemes support a wide range of people including young mums, older people in need of care and people transitioning from long-term mental health wards to living independently. We also operate three homeless services – Arlington House in Camden, Clarence House in Bedford and Whites Row Assessment Centre in Tower Hamlets.

Through the provision of twelve rooms, two ‘crash pads’ and a trained team of dedicated staff, the service provides a rare breathing space for young people who find themselves homeless. Our residents are referred through the council’s housing options team but Whites Row is about more than just providing emergency accommodation. It is about working with the young person to understand their unique circumstances and getting them the support they need to move on to a secure home.  

To achieve this, we work with nearly 40 partners including the NHS, probation services, the Police & Missing Person’s Unit, local businesses and charities such as the Princes Trust and Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company. We partner with the young person and their family, providing mediation which can repair broken relationships and enable a young person to move back home.

But moving back home was not an option for Tara[2] who grew up in a household where physical and verbal domestic abuse meant she never felt safe. At 18 she was kicked out and referred by Tower Hamlets to Whites Row. She had severe mental health challenges having recently attempted suicide and, working as a bartender on a zero hours contract, her finances were a constant struggle.

With the support of staff at Whites Row, Tara has accessed mental health services from her GP and Housing Benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions. During her 12-week assessment, she gained confidence and self-esteem through Whites Row’s programme of life skills training which includes everything from cooking skills to the Duke of Edinburgh award. Tara has recently signed a tenancy with another housing provider and is set to move into long-term accommodation.

Young homeless people rarely just need a home. Mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, lack of education and skills can all be wrapped up in why a young person is in crisis. Tara’s is one of the many stories from Whites Row which demonstrate the power of a model which enables partners to work together to get young people the support they need.


[1] Centerpoint (2018) “Making homeless young people count: The scale of youth homelessness in the UK”

[2] Name changed

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Martin D'Mello

Executive Director Health, Care and Support

Martin has 32 years’ experience in Housing, working within the specialism of Supported Housing and Care for the past 22 years. He joined One Housing 11 years ago. Martin has worked in a wide range of roles at Directorate level, including Operations, Development, Asset Management and Housing. He took over the role of Group Director of Housing Care & Support in November 2017.