Youngest MP Mhairi Black backs youth housing research project

MP Mhairi Black meets some young people involved in the Beyond4Walls project

New research into the future of housing has revealed that young people want access to good quality homes and to feel safe in their communities.


The research was launched yesterday at an event in Glasgow attended by Mhairi Black, Britain’s youngest Member of Parliament.


The Beyond4Walls (B4W) youth research project - run in partnership with Wheatley Group, the Poverty Alliance and Children in Scotland - involved a group of young people aged 14-21 from across Glasgow coming together to discuss and explore housing, economic and community issues in Scotland.


An important aim of the study is to enable housing providers to better understand the communities they work in and gain a more informed perspective on how they can meet the needs of the young people who live in their properties, both as tenants and as part of a household.


Mhairi Black MP said: “It’s  great to see young people getting involved and making their voices heard. The Beyond4Walls project is proof that young people want to be involved in their communities. Having access to accommodation which is affordable and suitable is central to meeting young people’s needs. I hope this report gives housing associations the guidance they need to start working more closely with young people to provide the support they require.”


The report showed the majority of young people believe they need additional support when moving into their first home. This included easy-to-understand forms to apply for housing. They would also like support to develop their life skills such as banking, budgeting, cooking and cleaning.


A need for good quality housing was also regarded as essential, with many of the young people believing that housing must be affordably heated, have space for them to study, have wifi and be a place they feel safe. Young people also identified the importance of having a voice in their own community and good transport links.


A number of the group expressed concern about the wider labour market, lack of opportunities and concerns about their long-term economic security.


Lorna Wilson, Research and Development Manager at Wheatley Group, said: “The research and findings will play an important role in helping shape future housing policy across the country. The wide-ranging results will be of keen interest to other organisations which want to find out more about the important issues affecting young people today.


“The Beyond4Walls project also had clear benefits for the young people themselves as they led this project from the beginning to the end.”


Over the past year, the young people worked on the project with the Poverty Alliance, Children in Scotland and Wheatley Group, Scotland’s leading housing, care and property-management organisation.

The young people who took part in the project felt more connected within their community. It also raised their awareness of the benefits and services they were entitled to and boosted their confidence and skills. The project also increased their belief that they had a voice and felt listened to within their community and by their housing provider.


One young person involved in the project said: “Beyond4Walls has helped me gain confidence in voicing my ideas and allowed me to relate to team members who are all from different backgrounds. We all have a common aim: to address housing problems and to develop invaluable transferable skills for the future.”


Peter Kelly is Director of the Poverty Alliance, which led the research. He said: “It is clear from this research that housing is a critical issue for young people. Having access to affordable accommodation is central to meeting young people’s housing needs, but there is much more that also needs to be done. The young people who led this research found that what was required was far more support on housing generally.


“We hope this research will help guide the way that housing providers in Scotland respond to the needs of young people and will encourage them to actively engage with young people. We know that by really listening to the views of young people then they will ultimately find better solutions to the problems they face.”


Children in Scotland Chief Executive, Jackie Brock said: “We fully support the messages from the young people involved in B4W about how to make things better for them in terms of housing, living independently and feeling safe and included within their communities.


“Safety is extremely important for young people. They should feel welcomed and valued in their communities, rather than stigmatised due to their age, the type of housing they live in or the area they call home. Spaces to learn and to play at home and in the community are also very important. We advocate that community planning partnerships should routinely involve the voices and experiences of children and young people.”


The Beyond4Walls report recommendations are aimed not only at the housing sector but everyone involved in making decisions that affect children and young people in Scotland, including Scottish Government, education bodies and local councils.