Ask Full Fact: have one in five young people slept rough in the past year?

Published: 7th Nov 2014

Via Twitter: 'Survey: 18 per cent of young people have slept rough in the past year  ... can this be right?'

The claim comes from a ComRes survey commissioned by the homeless charity Centrepoint. The figure looks surprisingly large, but that could well be because the survey is capturing more people than we might expect.

ComRes asked 2,011 young people aged 16-25: "Have you ever had to sleep in any of the following places because you felt you had nowhere else to stay?". The answers included in a car, in a tent, on a night bus and on the streets.

If they had slept in one of those places it then asked: "Have you had to sleep in any of the following places because you felt you had nowhere else to stay within the last year?"

365 out of the 2,011 people (18%) mentioned having stayed in one or more of those places the charity describes as 'dangerous environments' in the past year.

The survey does give some idea of how many young people have slept in potentially dangerous environments, but we should be cautious in concluding too much more. It could be picking up people who can't get home on a particular night for a variety of reasons. We know from the survey, for instance, that about two in five of the young people 'sleeping rough' did so for a single night. The survey doesn't specify the circumstances of each occasion, so a lot is left to the imagination.

The survey is obviously touching on a wider issue which will concern Centrepoint and others, but the 18% figure doesn't necessarily capture its scale.

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