Using mental skills training to improve the lives of homeless young people in Birmingham

Most of the 80,000 young people who are homeless every year in the UK have experienced significant and complex trauma, social isolation, and suffer from poor physical and mental health.

A large proportion are destitute and not in education, employment, or training (NEET). In collaboration with St Basils (www.stbasils.org.uk), we have developed an innovative mental skills training programme (MST) to help the most disengaged young people who live in supported accommodation. Over the next 3 years, the programme will help over 400 young people to recognise and use their strengths, and equip them with important self-regulation strategies including goal-setting, planning, and support seeking. During the 10-week programme that concludes in an outdoor adventure course, the young people are able to experiment with different ways of thinking and behaving, are guided in their reflections about these experiences, and encouraged to consider how these changes would generalise to other parts of their lives.

The MST programme has been featured several times on St Basils’ own website and received press coverage when HRH Duke of Cambridge visited St Basils to hear about the programme on 12 December 2014.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Well-being for Public Health England, has featured St Basils’ MST programme as “good practice” at the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health (March, 2015), which is a seminar aimed at professionals with an interest in homelessness care (e.g., Primary & community care, NHS trusts, local authorities, health educators, etc.).  

What are the outcomes of this research?

Better outcomes for young people who are homeless or at risk for homelessness: improved engagement with learning, skills, and work opportunities; improved confidence, resilience, and well-being.

"I can get up in the morning and wake up and look for jobs. I don’t have to wake up and put myself down… This programme has motivated me to do a lot of things…"

A quote from a young person who did our programme

People involved