Homelessness and mental health often go hand in hand and many people unfortunately suffer the loss of accommodation as a result of their mental health problems.
When a mental health problem becomes beyond a person’s control so too does the ability to sustain an ordinary life. This is when the important things such as employment, relationships and finances become increasingly difficult to maintain, usually resulting in eviction.
For somebody who is already suffering with their mental health, homelessness can have an even more catastrophic consequence. Studies suggest that homeless people are over 9 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Studies have also highlighted that the average age of death of a homeless male is just 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at just 43, compared to 77 for the general population.
Many homeless people turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with the harsh realities that homelessness brings which can be detrimental to a person’s already very fragile mental health state.
It is a stark fact that drugs and alcohol are major causes of death amongst homeless people.
The links between drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness are well established and Four out of five people start using at least one new drug since becoming homeless.
Unfortunately, the majority of Homeless people who suffer with mental health problems find it incredibly difficult to access mental health services and are usually placed on lengthy waiting lists for nothing more than over the phone talking therapies.
The following video link “Not Just Homeless” gives an insight into life on the streets and the difficulties people face when they find themselves in that situation.
Presentation to Banbury Samaritans 19th May 2016
So I've been thinking for some time about what I was going to talk about this evening and right up until today I still wasn't sure.
However, whilst as the Head of Business of a charity called Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP), I really should be talking about it, making you aware what we do and how we make a difference, I really actually want to tell you all about relationships and the importance of good relationships in all of our lives.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week and the key subject within the week is relationships. The Mental Health Foundation has produced a new report which calls relationships the “forgotten foundation of mental health and wellbeing”.https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/relationships-21st-century-forgotten-foundation-mental-health-and-wellbeing
As the boss of a local charity and a small charity at that, I understood when I joined about how important having good external relationships and being connected to our local community and working with others is.
Unfortunately as a young person’s charity offering a range of services, trying to support 200 to 300 young people a year with a team of four full-time employees and three part time employees, six trustees and about 15 to 20 other volunteers, you cannot always get everything done that you need to get done.
Therefore, building strong relationships and working with external groups is essential and something we at BYHP work hard to do every day, hence why I agreed to speak here this evening.
Whilst we as a society are increasingly connected, it is becoming ever more apparent that an increasing number of us in society are isolated, lonely and lacking the support of family, friends, neighbours and social (and by social I mean physically social) networks.
As small children, our initial relationships are normally built by bonding with one's mother and father and extended family unit.
As we grow we become part of a playgroup, preschool or kindergarten and start to meet other children, make friendships, understand how interacting with others, sharing and collaborating are normal parts of life.
In our family lives, we learn how to manage living in the same space, working to rules imposed by the family unit, and getting to know each person's characteristics so that we know how each person will react in certain circumstances and building personal confidence and resilience by drawing from the support of that family unit.
Then we move onto school and potentially college or university and then into jobs - all along this journey we meet new people, find those who we are compatible with or share things in common, in order to build interpersonal relationships, links with those who we can share happy and sad times, good times and really difficult ones with.
Life isn’t always easy but that is the benefit of the crucial support network that life presents to help us cope with the vagaries of being human.
The Mental Health Foundation which promotes good mental health and who instigated #MHAW16 has produced a new report which calls relationships the “forgotten foundation of wellbeing”:
Writer and Political Economist Will Hutton also put it well in an article for the Guardian: ‘We are social beings, and the building blocks of happiness lie in looking out for each other, acting together, being in teams and pursuing common goals for the common good’.
Not only are these connections important for us as individuals; they are important for us as a society, as they promote cohesiveness and a sense of community. Many of the pressures we face today like exams, work stress and financial worries undermine our sense of wellbeing. Young people, especially, are under stress because of the competitive climate we have in schools and in the employment market and because of the shortage of affordable housing.
But a phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear that can affect anyone. These fears can have an incapacitating effect on someone and have a detrimental effect on their life and mental health, something which was featured on Radio 2 recently.
Not only is the experience itself horrid and terrifying, but it can make you feel out of control and overwhelmed leading to stress, anxiety and depression.
Many people with phobias will go out of their way to avoid a situation where they might have to face their fear. This avoidance technique, which at first seems effective, can significantly impact how they live their life.
Social Phobia, which covers a range of fears, can be a specific situation like public speaking right along the scale to completely withdrawing from any social contact. BYHP works with a number of young people suffering with Social Phobia conditions like travelling on public transport, communicating in large groups and attending a job interview.
As reported in the Observer on Sunday, a survey of 300 GPs in England has said that care for children with mental health problems is ‘woefully inadequate’.
Young people with anxiety and depression are missing out on treatment because there is rationing of care and they are not considered to be priorities. Even young people who are self-harming sometimes have to wait months to be seen ‘with risks to their health and well-being’ (Norman Lamb Mental Health Minister in the Coalition Government).
This is at a time when more young people are experiencing mental health problems as a result of family breakdown, increased pressure in schools and worries about the cost of higher education. According to the survey conducted by the charity Stem4, one GP said that ‘young mental health problems are a time bomb waiting to explode.’
Here at BYHP we are aware of the pressures faced by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with increased demand and consequent longer waiting times. NHS England has promised an extra £1.4 billion nationally to support Mental Health Services for young people, but this will take some time to feed through. We have 2 qualified Counsellors and one Trainee Counsellor here at BYHP and at present we see 8 clients aged between 13 and 25 years.
We are currently developing our service and can receive referrals from schools, Social Care, CAMHS and from young people themselves and their families.
If you feel you or someone you know could benefit from a trained counsellor’s help please contact us for more information or to book an appointment
01295 259 442
2 Chandos Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 4TL
Ros Jones MBACP - Wellbeing Practitioner
Mental Health Awareness Week is with us again; does it feel like a year since we had the last one? What difference has it made to you, has it raised your awareness and sustained your awareness or did it come and go?
Reading moving stories of those who are brave enough to share their personal struggles with ill health can be very moving and yet, what impact does it have on society when we still hear of the stigma surrounding mental health.
I was wondering what to blog about to mark the occasion next week and I read an article on the Mental Health Foundation website https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ which is setting a challenge.
How good are your relationships? Can you improve them? They are asking everyone to prioritise their relationships and make a relationship resolution.
Could you invest more time in being with friends, family and colleagues and listening to them, actively committing to building good relationships?
Try it and see and then see if you can keep it going all year; Mental Health Awareness should be with us all year not just for one week, after all, we all live with our own physical and mental health even if we are not thinking of it.
Let us actively support someone who we know needs a helping hand; one person, one gesture, is sometimes all it takes to make a difference. #MHAW16
Hi, hope you are all having a good week after the Bank Holiday weekend.
Just wanted to share something with you - we support between 200 to 300 young people and their families a year and we do that on between £200k and £300k income per year (both numbers vary based on which year but it is pretty consistent).
That means our service costs a little less than £1000 for every young person we support.
We help them remain in a safe home family situation;
We help them work through various problems with 1:1 support and counselling;
We help them navigate through the complexities of housing registers, benefits systems and tenancy agreements;
We give them confidence and hope to move forward in their working lives and...
We provide a surrogate family home to those who don't have one.
£1000 to change a young life - not much is it?
Please keep spreading the word about BYHP - your support is priceless to us but we need funds urgently to continue our work.
BYHP - Hope....not just homelessness
Please help BYHP by texting BYHP01 £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070 or by visiting https://localgiving.com/charity/byhp
(Photo: Four Shires Magazine)
Local man John Assheton of The Mullet Press based in Milton, Banbury has, for the last week, been undertaking a massive cycling challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for local charity Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP).
John and his wife Amanda have been supporters of BYHP for some years and as Amanda had previously undertaken a challenge for BYHP, John decided to go for the challenge known as #LEJOG, cycling some 874 miles in an attempt to raise £10,000 for the charity.
Having left Land’s End on Tuesday 12th April John hopes to make it to his final destination within 10 days, arriving on Thursday 21st, beating Amanda’s 11 day record!
After 6 days John has already reached nearly £4000 for BYHP which will help provide support to many young people across Banbury and the surrounding area, as BYHP requires over £200,000 a year to support them with Family Mediation, Counselling, Housing Advice and Employability Training.
To add to the challenge, John is also managing to find the time to write some poetry describing his exploits and why he is doing the challenge and it can be seen at www.themulletpress.co.uk.
If you would like to donate to support John in his challenge to help BYHP please go to
Tim Tarby-Donald, Head of Business at BYHP said:
“Supporters like John and Amanda are invaluable to the work we do supporting Young People locally – it is amazing that people want to push themselves to the limit to help us continue our work. Thanks so much to
them and the kind people who have donated”
Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP) are delighted to announce a new contractual relationship with Oxfordshire Adult Learning, provided by Abingdon & Witney College, which is funded by the Skills Funding Agency, to deliver the next two cohorts of the Unlocking Potential Employability Programme.
The contract between Abingdon & Witney College and BYHP which is worth up to £10,000, was recently agreed and signed following an application process to the Oxfordshire Learning Network in February and on confirmation of a successful bid, BYHP has joined the UK Register of Learning Providers and has been implementing all of the elements to provide training services to Oxfordshire Adult Learning.
The two courses will take place over three full days for five weeks 19th April to 19th May and 21st June to 21st July and anyone over the age of 16 who is Not in Education, Employment and Training is eligible to apply to take part. 16-18 year olds are supported by the charity and should get in touch if interested in this initiative, however, the funding is specifically focused on enabling those who are 19 years old and above to move forward in their lives.
Preventing homelessness has always been at the heart of BYHP.
Our Family Mediation programme strives to keep all our young people safe, whether it is at home or with extended family, supported housing or private rented accommodation but always somewhere they can call home.
Relationships with parents can often be rocky going through the adolescent years but, if this relationship was fragile before, it can often break down completely when faced with adversity.
Even if the young person doesn’t return to the family home, they still want a relationship with their family and often having the support of a Family Mediator, a professional who is non-judgemental and listens, can make a huge difference to the dynamics of families.
A group of professionals from many different organisations such as DePaul, Crisis, Relate, St Mungo’s and Barnados gathered together with Centrepoint to discuss effective ways to prevent youth homelessness.
In conclusion, it was agreed that lots of support around the whole family is essential and Family Mediation plays a huge role with this. Other factors come into play with parents’ expectations and poor resilience, poverty and overcrowding, all of which have a detrimental effect on young people’s aspirations.
The pressure to leave home and find a job and not be a burden on their families is immense and can often lead to poor mental health. We need an holistic approach to each individual family and to recognise that some families will need support long term.
We have a lot of work to do to improve prospects for the young and disadvantaged and their families who come to BYHP, and it is with the support of our funders and the local community that we can continue with this valuable and necessary intervention to improve life opportunities for everyone.
The BYHP team look forward to working with Centrepoint in other areas where BYHP delivers services.
Our blog is a great way to stay up to date with current events and projects, stories from our young people and the general goings on at BYHP.