Charity seeks to reduce homelessness with family mediation

Cyrenians CEO Ewan Aitken believes that mediation can help reduce homelessness
Cyrenians CEO Ewan Aitken believes that mediation can help reduce homelessness
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Greater use of mediation to tackle family disputes could help reduce the number of youngsters who end up running away from home, campaigners have claimed.

Ewan Aitken, chief executive of the Cyrenians charity, said a change in culture to “normalise mediation as a tool to resolve conflict” could help cut homelessness amongst young people.

A total of 4,750 people aged 16 to 24 became homeless as a result of relationship breakdowns in 2013-14, the charity said.

Cyrenians has set up the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR), using early intervention to try to tackle the problem, with the charity now holding a major conference on “conquering conflict” in Edinburgh.

Experts from law, health and education will attend, along with charities and the Scottish Government’s Minister for Young People, Aileen Campbell.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Aitken said: “Conflict at home and youth homelessness knows no boundaries or class divide - it can happen to any family. We know that one in four young people think about running away from home each month because of arguments. And a third of parents argue with their teenagers weekly.

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“The reasons for homelessness are complex and as such tackling the issue requires joined-up thinking. We have come a long way, but more needs to be done, by working together we can change the culture of Scotland and normalise mediation as a tool to resolve conflict before another young person becomes a statistic, or dies prematurely.”

Ms Campbell said: “Preventing people from experiencing the misery of homelessness is a priority for the Scottish Government and services like SCCR’s National Resource Centre will provide vital help for those at risk of becoming homeless.

“I am delighted we have been able to support Edinburgh Cyrenians with £240,000 of funding to allow them to continue their important work.

“While the overall number of homeless applications has fallen for six consecutive years, we recognise there is more work to be done and we will continue to work with partners like SCCR to tackle the root causes of homelessness.”

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