Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 11 June 2012 13:08 UK

Equal Opportunities Committee

Byron Carruthers, who had been homeless, told the Equal Opportunities Committee there should be an "age limit" for people to be allowed to go into homelessness and it should be 18 years old.

The committee was taking evidence for its inquiry into measures required to prevent homelessness among young people on 12 June 2012.

Byron Carruthers, who had been in care before becoming homeless and then finding support with Quarriers said 16 and 17 year olds were to young to leave care and become homeless.

Quarriers is a Scottish charity dedicated to helping children, families and adults overcome adversity.

Mr Carruthers told MSPs the care system had never taught him enough home skills and he was "young and naive" and did not have the essential skills to live alone when he left care.

He said after three weeks he was "choking at door to try and get back into the care system".

Sharleen McLennon, who also had been homeless and found support with Quarriers, said she had "no idea just how difficult it would be" to live alone and she could not cope with her own house as she did not have the skills required.

Ms McLennon also said once a person became homeless they had to face stigma and found it much more difficult to get a job.

Kate Sanford a policy manager with Quarriers said some young people have a "glamorous view of the homelessness system" but it was not like that at all and they were "very, very quickly disabused".

Ms Sanford called efforts to be made to bridge the gap between a difficult family, before the family situation breaks down, by offering "breathing space" through a respite programme.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan asked what impact the UK government welfare reforms would have on the situation.

Ms Sanford replied that the changes to benefits and move from DLA to PIP were "real concerns for some of the young people we support" and it could become extremely difficult for some of them "just to survive".

Gordon Fleming, unit manager with the Highlands Homeless Trust said the transition from care to living independently must be supported.

The Highlands Homeless Trust provides accommodation, support and guidance to people with housing problems, through Planefield House which provides high quality accommodation for 7 young people aged between 16.

Mr Fleming said there should be "more Planefield Houses across Scotland" where a young person could get the chance to have a "mini tenancy" with a circle of friends around them.

Julia Edgar, Matthew Friess, and Rhea Nicholson who have been helped by Highlands Homeless Trust also gave evidence.

Equal Opportunities Committee membership


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