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Specialist support if you’re homeless...

Specialist support if you’re homeless

1. Because of relationship breakdown

Understanding what housing rights you have when your relationship with your parents or partner breaks down can be complicated. 

If you can no longer live with them, you may need to get legal advice.

The property is in someone else’s name

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you have a right to live in your home, even if it’s in the other person’s name.

If you're not married or in a civil partnership with your partner, you might not have any right to stay unless you’re joint owner or tenant, or have a child together. This means your partner can tell you to leave if they own or rent that property.

What you should do

Get advice from a family law adviser about your property rights. There might be family law advisers at your citizens advice bureau.

You can contact a solicitor but you’ll probably need to pay unless you’re a victim of domestic abuse.  

Your partner’s left and you can’t afford the rent or mortgage

You should get help from a money advice organisation to see if your home is affordable for you. If your home isn't affordable you might need to find a cheaper place to live or check if you can get Discretionary Housing Payments.

If you can't find anywhere that’s cheaper to live you can visit our Citizen Service Point to see how we could help and if you could get a Personal Housing Plan

Other organisations that might be able to help

  • Shelter: advice for people who have experienced a relationship breakdown
  • Gingerbread advice and support to single parents. Free helpline: 0808 802 0925

2. Because of domestic abuse

Call 999 if a crime is happening now or you're in immediate danger.

If you need to leave your home now

If you’re a victim of hate crime, harassment or domestic abuse and need to leave home now, you can:

Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Service

Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Service can give you practical ideas, emotional support and legal advice. The service is free and confidential.

Call their 24 hour freephone number on: 0800 171 2272. 

Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Service includes organisations like:

If you’re a council tenant

If you’re a council tenant or the person responsible for the hate crime is a council tenant, you can report it to the Estate Management Service.

Make your home more secure

You can make your home safer to live in by ‘target hardening’. This is when the police come to your home and make adjustments to try and make it safer.

It can include fitting:

  • window and door locks
  • door chains 
  • spy holes
  • fire proof letter boxes

Your landlord will need to agree to any work being done.

Contact the police if you’re interested in target hardening. They’ll be able to tell you if target hardening is right for you.

3. Young person told to leave home

If you have to leave home because your family has asked you to or you feel you’re in danger, you can contact:

  • Childline: 0800 1111. Free 24 hour support helpline for children and young people
  • Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247. Free 24 hour helpline for victims of domestic violence
  • Shelterline: 0808 800 4444. Free 24 hour helpline giving information on housing
  • Bristol City Council’s Homeless Prevention Team: 0117 352 6800
  • The Hide Out has information on domestic abuse against young people

If you’re having problems at home

If you’re having arguments or you’re not getting on with the people you live with, you should:

If you’re under 16

You can't move out and you can't legally be told or forced to move out if you’re under 16. 
You can read more about your rights on the Childline website.

If you’re 16 to 21

If you’re 16 to 21 and you’re homeless or you’ve been told to leave your home, you should contact Bristol Youth MAPS.

They’ll talk to you about your situation and you can plan what to do next.

They’ll also support you to find somewhere else to live if it’s not safe or possible to return home. They help young people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless by getting the family to talk about what’s happened.

Your situation may feel bad but if you leave your family home without being prepared, you may find yourself in a worse situation and find it difficult to carry on with your education. Try talking to someone before you make any decisions.

If you’re over 21

If you’re over 21, worried about becoming homeless and have a support worker, you should contact them about your situation. 

If you don’t have a support worker or anyone else to talk to, visit our Citizen Service Point and ask to speak to someone about your housing situation.

Find out what happens when you tell us you’re homeless.

Finding you somewhere to live

Helping young people over the age of 21 get their own home can be difficult. If we find you somewhere to live, it will probably be shared accommodation.

If you’re pregnant or have a child

If you have a support worker or GP, speak to them first. 

If you don’t have a support worker, visit our Citizen Service Point and ask to speak to someone about your housing situation.

You can also contact:

The Bristol Young Parents Alliance gives housing advice to 16 to 24 year old pregnant women, and young mums or dads with children up to three years old.

Deciding to leave home

Leaving your family home should be the last thing that you consider, especially if you have nowhere to go. You could easily end up homeless. However you may be forced to consider leaving if you feel unsafe.

You probably won't be entitled to a council home, so you may have to find a deposit and rent to move into private accommodation.

Get advice before you decide and don't rush into anything.  

4. Young people who've been in care

If you've been in care, you may get help finding somewhere to live. The help you get will depend on your age.
You must have a local connection to Bristol to apply for housing in this area. If you don’t, we’ll refer your case to the local authority area where you do have a connection.

You have a local connection if:

  • you’ve been in foster care in Bristol for two years or more without breaks in between, and some or all of that time was before you were 16
  • you were in foster care outside Bristol but since leaving care you’ve been living in Bristol for two years or more without breaks in between

Your Personal Adviser

You should’ve been given a Personal Adviser while you were still in care. If you don’t have one, ask the local authority where you were in care and they’ll get one for you.

If this was in Bristol, call the Care Leavers Freephone 0800 694 0168. This call may not be free from a mobile phone.

Your Personal Adviser will help you with:

  • filling in application forms for housing, benefits and education or training courses
  • life skills such as how to budget
  • any problems you have with where

Your Personal Adviser will support and help you until you’re 21, or until your 25th birthday if you’re still studying full time.

If you're 16 to 21 years old

If you’re aged 16 to 21 and homeless or worried about becoming homeless, contact Bristol Youth MAPS

If you're 18 to 21 and you spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17 you may be entitled to temporary accommodation until your 21st birthday.

Housing help for care leavers over 21

If you're 21 or older and you’ve been in care you may be entitled to accommodation from us. 

You'll need to have a priority need, for example you:

  • are vulnerable because you've been in care
  • haven't had a stable home since you left care
  • have slept on the streets in the past

Let us know you’re worried about being homeless and we’ll do all we can to help you.

5. After leaving prison

If you won’t have anywhere to live when you’re released from prison you must speak to your prison’s housing officer as soon as possible. 

If your sentence is for 12 or more months you’ll probably be released on licence. This means you’ll live in the community but you’ll be supervised by the probation service until the end of your sentence.

If you’re going to be released on licence, your probation officer will find you a place to stay, or they’ll make a homelessness application to us on your behalf. In some situations, we may have a duty to provide you with accommodation when you're released.

You must have a local connection to Bristol

To qualify for help from us you must have a local connection to the area.

You have a local connection with Bristol if you’ve lived, worked, or have immediate family here. You don’t necessarily have a local connection if you’ve just spent time in prison here.  

If you don’t have a local connection, you can apply to any council in any area.

There may be a restriction on where you can live

You may need to ask for help from a different council if there are restrictions on you living in Bristol. This may be because you have an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) that says you can’t go to a particular area.

If you’re a high risk prisoner managed by a Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA) you may have to live in certain areas.  

Help with money

The prison service will give you a discharge grant when you leave prison. This is money to help with your costs until your benefits are sorted out.

If you’ve got accommodation for your first night, you may be given an extra £50 to pay for it. The money will be paid directly to the landlord or person providing the accommodation.

You may be able to prepare for your release when you’re in prison by:

  • saving some of your prison wages
  • opening a credit union account

Ask your prison for details.

Other services who can help you

Impact Pathways Bristol: information and advice for vulnerable and disadvantaged people involved with the criminal justice system.

Clinks website: directory of voluntary agencies that work with offenders and their families.

Shelter has a help if you’re an ex-prisoner and homeless page you can read.  

Why it’s important to have a fixed address

Having a fixed address will make it much easier for you to settle back into normal daily life if you’ve recently left prison.

Having a fixed address can help you:

  • get a job
  • register with a doctor
  • receive drug or alcohol treatment

Find a home with a private landlord

We can help you find a home with a private landlord if you're homeless or threatened with homelessness. We can also talk to you about how to apply for benefits to help you with your housing costs. 

Apply for a council or housing association home

You can also apply for a council or housing association home on the Home Choice Bristol website.

6. After leaving hospital

If you think you’re going to be homeless when you leave hospital, you must tell the hospital nursing staff as soon as possible. They’ll ask their hospital discharge team to help you.

The hospital discharge team will make a homelessness application to us on your behalf. If you think this hasn’t happened, talk to the nursing staff as soon as you can.

How we can help

If you have a connection to Bristol, the discharge team may refer you to the housing advice team at our Citizen Service Point (CSP). We’ll assess your situation and may offer you a temporary accommodation while your application is assessed. 

If you have a home already but it needs to be adapted the hospital will refer you to the Accessible Homes Service.

Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI)

There’s a Homelessness Support Team based at the BRI.

The team mainly helps people who are:

  • rough sleeping
  • sofa surfing

Visit the team on Level 7 of the BRI’s discharge hub or call them on 0746 957 3725.

The team will let you know about support services that can help you. They’ll also make a referral to us.

7. For ex-forces members

If you’ve left or are leaving the armed forces and you’re homeless there are a number of agencies who can help you.

Ministry of Defence

If you think you may be homeless after you leave the armed forces, you should contact the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) housing advice service, the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO).

They run a referral scheme which may help you to find a housing association home.

You can apply if you’re:

  • married, in a civil partnership, or separated but still living in services family accommodation (SFO) 
  • single and living in a hostel within six months of leaving the forces 

The MOD runs the Veterans UK helpline which gives advice to veterans in a crisis.

Military charities

Veterans' Gateway is a group of military charities. They can give you advice about organisations that can help you.
 
You can also get help finding accommodation from:

These housing associations provide longer term housing for veterans:

How we can help

We can help you if you have a:

  • priority need
  • local connection to Bristol

You have a priority need

This might be because you have children living with you, you’re pregnant, or you’re vulnerable because of your time in the armed forces.

We’ll look at:

  • how long you were in the forces 
  • the role or job you had
  • when you left the forces
  • if you spent any time in a military hospital
  • if you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form)
  • if you’re disabled or seriously injured
  • if you have any kind of mental illness because of your time in the armed forces
  • if you’ve had anywhere to live since leaving the forces

You may need to provide medical evidence from the Ministry of Defence, including a Medical History Release Form if you were given one.

You have a local connection to Bristol

This can mean that you:

  • currently work in the area
  • have lived in the area for six out of the last 12 months, or 3 out of the last 5 years
  • live with a partner who currently works in the area

 Contact us

Call 0117 352 6800:

  • between 9am and 4pm: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • between 10am and 4pm: Wednesday

Email: HomelessnessAdvice@bristol.gov.uk  

Staying where you are

If you don’t let us know in good time, and are currently in services family accommodation (SFO), you may need to stay where you’re living as long as possible and wait until Ministry of Defence (MOD) Estates evict you.

MOD Estates have to give you a Notice to Vacate before they can take you to court to get a possession order. You can use any Notice to Vacate and any possession order against you as evidence to support your homelessness application.

Apply for a council or housing association home

You can also apply for a council or housing association home on the Home Choice Bristol website.

As someone who is homeless and ex-armed forces, you’ll be put into Band 2.

You may move up a band if:

  • you’re suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability which was caused by your time in the forces
  • you’ve lost your accommodation provided by the MOD following the death of your spouse or civil partner whose death was caused by their time in the forces
  • you served in the army reserve and are suffering from a serious injury, illness or disability which was caused by your time in the reserves

We can also help you find a home with a private landlord.

8. For asylum seekers and refugees

Gov.UK has a list of helplines you can call If you're an asylum seeker, or you’ve been refused asylum and you don’t have anywhere to stay.

They’ll give you advice on how to apply for asylum support, which will include:

  • somewhere to live
  • cash support

If you’re a young person, up to the age of 18

If you’re a young person on your own and you’re applying for asylum in the UK, you’ll need to call the Children’s Panel on 020 7346 1134. They’re open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm.

If you're a refugee

Contact us if you’re a refugee and you're:

We’ll work with you to either help you stay in your current home or find you somewhere else to live.

Help with a deposit

Private landlords usually ask for a deposit and rent in advance before they’ll offer you a tenancy. We can help you apply for a loan to cover the cost. Speak to a Housing Advisor at our Citizen Service Point about this.

Other organisations that may be able to help

  • Bristol Refugee Rights can help you fill in forms for things such as job and benefits applications. They also have English classes and a drop in centre on Wednesdays Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Refugee Women of Bristol offer support and advice to women refugees. They have a drop in group every Tuesday.
  • Borderlands offer support and advice to asylum seekers and refugees. They have drop in sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Ashley Community Housing supports refugees with finding housing, work and training.
  • Project Mama supports pregnant women who are refugees or seeking asylum.
  • Bristol Hospitality Network have a drop in session at Easton Family Centre on a Monday.

Refugee integration loan

You can use integration loans to buy items that will help you integrate into the UK. They must be paid back, but they’re interest-free. You can borrow between £100 and £1,000.

You can use the loan for things like:

  • housing deposits
  • work clothing and equipment
  • education and training

You can apply if you’ve been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection or are dependent upon someone who has.

Find out more about refugee integration loans on GOV.UK

Help to return to your home country

If you need help to return to your home country, contact the Home Office on 0208 196 5535. The helpline is open from 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.