A single mother is worried about her daughter’s friend who is staying with them after an argument at home. Can she afford to help her? We have some advice in this week’s A Problem Shared.
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My daughters’ best friend is currently staying with us after she left home recently. She was very unhappy at home and I don’t think that her father was treating her very well, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. After a particularly bad row three weeks ago she turned up at our house at 1am and she hasn’t left since.
I’m not going to throw her out, she’s only 16 and I’m worried about her. She means a lot to my daughter and me, but as a single mother I can’t support another child financially so can’t do this long term. What kind of help is available to her? I want her to be happy and feel secure and wouldn’t want to see her going into some dirty B&B or something.
Our FamilyPoint Advice
Thank you for getting touch with Family Point about the situation with your daughter’s friend (who I shall refer to as ‘A’). It sounds like you’ve been incredibly supportive to her. You mentioned that you couldn’t continue with the current arrangement but that you want to get the very best outcome for her.
Services that can help
At 16 she is entitled to help from her local children’s and housing services. Since a ruling called the Southwark Judgement came into place in 2010, local councils in England and Wales have a duty to help 16 and 17-year-olds. Young people in this age group now fall into the ‘priority need’ category. This means that the local authority has a duty to assess their needs and, if appropriate, assist them to access suitable accommodation.
In the first instance, most local councils will offer mediation to the young person and family. Usually, they feel that it is in the young person’s best interest to remain at home. If this is not possible they can offer different types of accommodation to 16 and 17-year-olds. This depends on whether the children’s services or the housing department takes the main responsibility. For example, if children’s services are the main service working with the young person, a foster placement might be offered. Following pressure from various youth campaigns, the Welsh Government has issued guidance to local councils that a B&B should only ever be used as a last resort.
Steps to take
We would advise that ‘A’ and/or you take the following steps:
- Contact your local children’s services team and ask to speak to a duty social worker
- Let them know about the current situation and a bit about what lead up to it
- Explain that the current situation is only a short-term arrangement as financially you can’t afford to do it long term
- Explain that ‘A’ will need their, and possibly housing’s, assistance and ask for an appointment to meet with them
Shelter Cymru advice
You might want to check the Shelter Cymru ‘Advice for young people’ page. You could also call their helpline. Make sure you’re both as well informed as you can be before meeting with the local council.
If ‘A’ is unhappy with any aspects of how her case is dealt with, Shelter has caseworkers that may be able to offer support. They can also liaise directly with the local council on her behalf.
Talking about what happened
You said that she doesn’t want to talk about how things were at home. This is understandable. However, the local council, as part of their assessment, will expect her to talk about what lead to her leaving home. They will want to know about her relationship with her family and any concerns she might have about returning home. They will also contact her parents to hear their views on what has happened, assess whether a return home is appropriate and offer mediation if they believe this could help.
You might want to let ‘A’ know what to expect from this process so that she has some time to prepare herself for it. Tell her that she needs to share this information in order to get help. This may make it easier. She could think about writing down some of the issues and how she feels, as she might forget some of it during the assessment meeting.
You mentioned that as a single parent you couldn’t financially continue with the current arrangement. If children or housing services agree that a return home is not possible, they might explore a range of options. This could possibly include that she remains with you. If this is suggested, and it was something you would wish to consider, you could explore with them if there was any financial support available to you.
We hope that your daughters’ friend does get the help she needs to either return home to her family or find suitable accommodation. She is very lucky to have you and your daughter’s support, as it sounds like you’ve both been very caring. She could also contact the Meic helpline any time between 8am and midnight, 7 days a week. They help children and young people with any information, advice or advocacy that they need
All the best to you.
The Family Point team
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
A Problem Shared… is your space to share both your problems and your advice with the FamilyPoint community.
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