Help if you are a care leaver and homeless

If you are a care leaver and homeless, or worried that you might become homeless, you can get help and advice.

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If you are a care leaver and have nowhere to stay, you should contact the Council’s housing options service, HomeChoice on 01454 868005

If you have:

  • spent at least two years in care in one council area and
  • some of that time was before you were aged 16

If you become homeless, this gives you a local connection to that area as well as with the council you were in care with. 

Once you’ve been in care for 13 weeks you will also get support from social services up until your 21st birthday (or 25th birthday if you’re in education or training).  This may include advice, accommodation during holidays if you go to university, and cash assistance.

Read more about ‘applying as homeless’ in the Homelessness leaflet.

Help for care leavers from a personal adviser

You will be assigned a personal adviser from the Transition to Independence team whose job it is to make sure that you claim the benefits you are entitled to.  Before you leave care you are given a Pathway Plan setting out what support you might need to live independently.  Your Pathway Plan should include where you are going to live.

Your personal advisor can help you with application forms for:

  • housing
  • benefits
  • education and training courses

They can also help you with learning life skills, such as how to budget and how to manage your own housing.  Your personal adviser should stay in contact with you and provide ongoing support and help until you are 21, or until your 25th birthday if you are still studying full time.

If you become homeless, the HomeChoice team will contact your personal advisor for a copy of your Pathway Plan. This is so your housing officer and your personal advisor can work together with you so you can get the best support.

Emergency housing

If you become homeless once you’ve left care and you’re aged 18-20 you will have an automatic priority need for housing.  You will be offered emergency housing while your homelessness application is being assessed.  HomeChoice will try to find you a place in a hostel or supported housing scheme.  You shouldn’t be housed in a bed and breakfast unless there’s no other housing available and this is the very last resort. If so, you will be moved to somewhere more suitable as soon as possible.  It’s important to accept the housing the council offers you, even if you don’t want to stay there.

If you’re 21 or over you might have a priority need if you’re considered ‘vulnerable’. This criteria will be assessed by HomeChoice.   Because you are not automatically considered vulnerable there is no guarantee that you will be offered emergency housing.

Supported housing

The Council funds a number of schemes that provide short-term supported accommodation.

If you already have somewhere to live and need some help to manage this, then the council can also arrange for some support. Further information can be found on our short-term supported housing page.

Benefits for care leavers over 18

When you are 18 you are entitled to claim benefits. You should be able to claim housing benefit and either Job Seeker’s allowance or income support if you need to. Find out more about benefits on the GOV.UK website.

Further information

You can get housing advice and support from 1625 Independent People, contact Freephone  0800 7317213

Also visit Shelter’s website for more advice on housing and care leavers


South Gloucestershire Council Homelessness Service 01454 868005

South Gloucestershire Council Housing Related Support service 01454 865555

South Gloucestershire Council children services 01454 866000

South Gloucestershire Council Emergency Duty team 01454 615165 (out of hours and weekends)

1625 Independent People: Freephone  - 0800 731 72 13  - service users only.

You can find out more about the support provided to young people leaving care in this article.