Independent Living and Housing

Whether you are thinking about leaving home or want to live more independently, it is important to know what options, services and provisions are out there to help you achieve this. You can read more information about Housing services and support in Southwark at the following link: Housing, Southwark Council


Deciding to leave home and live independently is a big decision.

Although you'll have more freedom, you'll also have new responsibilities.

If you do feel ready to move out then the best way to do so is after careful thought and planning. Find out what your options are and ask for advice before making any decisions. You can get advice from trusted adults and from support services in Southwark.

If you'd like more information on leaving home, you can read the Leaving Home Booklet or the housing guide on Learning Disability England's website.

More information on leaving home as a young person in Southwark is available from Housing Support Services

If you are feeling unsafe at home and would like information and support, 'The Hide Out' can help, click here. 

We would recommend speaking to your friends, family and local support services for advice so that you can make informed choices about your future!

See below for more information on common issues and questions about independent living.

When to leave home is a major decision which should not be taken lightly. Although leaving home will grant you more freedom, it also means you'll have responsibilities that you have probably not had to deal with before.

The best way to leave home is after careful thought and planning. Leaving your parental home at a very young age, especially if you have nowhere to go, should be the very last option that you should consider. You could easily end up homeless.

You won't be entitled to a council home and you may have to find a deposit and rent in advance for a home in the private sector.

When a young person approaches the council as homeless due to a family relationship breakdown, it's procedure for their visiting officer to make a call to the home and try best to mediate between you and your family.

For more help and advice, ring the 'Housing Solutions' advice line on 020 7525 4140

You can also find advice from Contact: Independent Living & Housing

Explore your options first

When you're ready to leave, you'll need to decide the type of housing that will suit you best. A big factor in making this decision will probably be your financial situation. The cost of running a home is rising all the time. Many young people decide to share with others at first as this will mean you can share the rent and bills. Seek advice before you decide and don't rush into anything.

There's a booklet available aimed at young people between the ages of 16 and 24. It provides information about what your options are if you want or need to leave home, including:

  • tenancies and rent payments   

  • living skills and the cost of living

  • what housing options are available for young people

  • homelessness explained

Download the young person's guide to leaving home 

If you're having problems at home

There is help and support available. Try to find someone you trust to talk to, such as friends, extended family such as an aunt or uncle, or a teacher at your school or college. If the situation becomes worse, see if there's a place you can go to for a night or two to let everyone cool down.

We may be able to provide mediation in your home with your family to talk about the problems. Remember, no matter how bad things may seem, if you leave home without preparation, you may find yourself in an even worse situation. You may also find it difficult to continue with your education.

You may also find our parental exclusion self help pack (docx, 105kb) useful. This can help you and the parent/s or family you live with by providing practical ideas to help you all to try and work out a solution so you don’t have to leave home.

Feel unsafe at home?

If you have absolutely no choice and feel that you have to leave home immediately, for example because someone is being violent or abusive towards you, you must seek help right away.

There are a number of agencies who can assist you, including perhaps finding you a safe place to go. Some of these are listed below:

  • Childline: 0800 1111 free 24 hour support helpline for children and young people

  • Women's Aid: 0808 2000 247 free 24 hour helpline for victims of domestic violence

  • Shelterline: 0808 800 4444 free 24 hour helpline giving information on housing

  • Housing Solutions advice line: 020 7525 4140

For more information on domestic abuse against young people try the hideout.

If your relationship with your family has broken down because of your sexual orientation or gender identity

If you're feeling unsafe or are being excluded from your home due to coming out to family members, there are specific organisations who can provide support and possibly a safe place for you to go.

  • The Albert Kennedy Trust are a specialist organisation for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are aged 16-25 and struggling with a housing situation; their website has a live chat feature, details of how else to contact them and ways they could help you

  • Stonewall Housing provide advice about different housing related issues you may be experiencing

    - 020 7359 5767- the advice line is open weekdays between 10am and 1pm.
    - Drop-in sessions available. Contact Stonewall for further information.

Other support you can get

There are lots of agencies which support young people with a range of issues including housing, jobs and career advice, finances, drug and alcohol issues, personal health and safety and much more.

Seeking support when you face important decisions will mean that you are less likely to do something on the spur of the moment which you later regret. Sharing others' experiences will also really help to prepare you for the unforeseen consequences of any actions you may take.

  • New Horizon Youth Centre is a day centre working with young people who are homeless, vulnerable or at risk. The centre is open 7 days a week to young people aged 16-21. Providing everything from hot food, showers and laundry to finding young people accommodation, training and employment, counselling, drug and alcohol support, health, fitness, art, music and communication skills workshops

    • Advice line: 0207 388 5560

    • Drop in: 10.30am – 4pm, 7 days a week at 68 Chalton St, London, NW1 1JR

  • The Foyer Federation can offer accommodation combined with education/training support. Contact 020 7430 2212

  • Centrepoint provide a range of housing for homeless young people

  • Talk to Frank for advice and information on drugs and their effects

  • Southwark Community Safety offer advice and information on personal safety

  • Victim Support offer advice and support to victims of crime 

  • Shelter offer advice and support relating to housing and homelessness

  • Southwark Healthy Young People (pdf, 103kb) offers different types of support around health, wellbeing, substance misuse and others for young people under 25. Find details here of their Cambridge House Clinic (pdf, 91kb) and Pyramid Clinic (pdf, 90kb)

What is supported housing?

Supported housing is a form of housing that combines support services and accommodation. This form of housing is aimed to help people who are vulnerable or may have a disability to live independently with support available if needed. There are different types of supported housing to help people with different levels of needs to live independently.
Its important to be aware of the options available when making the decision of what sort of accommodation is right for you. This can be done by understanding the different types of supported accommodations available.

  • Support in your home
  • Supported accommodation and group
  • Temporary supported accommodation

Getting needs assessed

The most important part of the of seeing if you are eligible for supported accomodation is to be needs assessed. Southwark social services department are who carry out the assessment of your care and support needs if you are finding it difficult to manage at home.

Care and support assessments

A needs assessment will review your personal circumstances. The purpose of the assessment is to identify any care and support needs you have.

The assessment is the first stage in the process of getting care and support services provided. The next stage is to decide whether you are eligible for any help

Who can get a care and support assessment?

Anyone who may need care and support can get an assessment.
You might need support because of:

  • old age
  • physical or learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • chronic illness
  • drug or alcohol dependency

Asking for a care and support assessment

You can also ask your GP to make a referral for an assessment. If you are in hospital, you can ask the hospital social work team to request an assessment.
Your local council's social services department must also carry out an assessment if they become aware that you may be in need of services, even if no formal request has been made. You might be referred by another part of the council, for example the housing department.

What happens at the care and support assessment?

Usually the assessment of your care and support needs is carried out face-to-face with your social worker. It could be carried over the phone or online if you agree to it.
The assessment looks into your needs, what kind of help you would like and finds out what you can and cannot do for yourself.

Social services may speak to your doctor, occupational therapist or other medical professionals, if you agree to this.

If the council says you are not entitled to care and support services
Social services may decide that you are not entitled to care and support services because your identified needs are not high enough or are already being adequately met by friends or family.

Social services should give you:

  • a written decision containing reasons
  • information about how to challenge their decision
  • advice and information about other sources of support
  • Care and support services: help and advice

Please visit our Social Care page for details of contacts.

Click here for the Shelter Directory to find an advice centre near you.

How can we help?

Our handyperson team can help with small repairs or adaptions around the home.

To access this service you must be either aged 60 or over, or have a disability (no age limit). You must also live in Southwark. We can help if you’re a home owner, council tenant, renting privately, or a housing association tenant.

The amount you pay depends on your personal circumstances.

What we can do for you?

  • Moving furniture
  • Hanging or taking down curtains
  • Taping down carpets and electrical leads
  • Changing lightbulbs
  • Putting up shelves
  • Reglazing small windows
  • Fixing minor plumbing or electrical faults
  • Bleeding radiators
  • Fixing draught excluders

Types of jobs that a handyperson can't help with:

  • gas servicing

  • major building work

  • electrical work

  • furniture removals

  • home cleaning such as window cleaning

If you're a council tenant or housing association tenant

If the repair you're requesting is part of your tenancy agreement, you should contact your respective repairs team.

How much we charge

If you’re receiving housing benefits, income support, council tax benefits, pension credit, disability living allowance or attendance allowance, we charge £22 per hour, plus material costs.

If you’re not receiving benefits, we charge £44 for the first hour, and each additional hour is £33, plus materials costs.

Other help you can get

  • Housing adaptations works closely with occupational therapists who assess council tenant needs and recommend necessary adaptations to your home
  • Home Improvement Agency (HIA) offers a service to older and disabled homeowners and private tenants who want to repair or adapt their homes


Contact us by phoning 020 7525 1863 during office hours, or email the handyperson team


Finding yourself with nowhere to live or the risk of being made homeless is both frightening and stressful. Southwark Council wants to help you by preventing homelessness from occurring wherever possible so that you can avoid the worry of this difficult situation.

While Southwark Council tries to help everybody who approaches with homelessness, however sometimes there isn't enough resources available to provide temporary or emergency accommodation.  For further information, visit the Southwark Council website.

For more information about your rights and our responsibilities or for independent advice see the Shelter website.

Are you intentionally homeless?

What 'intentionally homeless' means: being intentionally homeless means that you are homeless because you left an accommodation that you could have stayed in. If your last home was temporary or short-term, the council looks into the reasons you left your last 'settled home'.

When deciding if you are or aren't intentionally homeless, the council must consider the reasons you became homeless. It's up to the council to prove that you became homeless intentionally and that:

  • You did, or failed to do, something that caused you to leave your home

  • The act, or failure to act, was deliberate or you were aware of what was going on

  • It was reasonable for you to continue living in your accommodation

You have the right to explain your actions to the council in relation to your housing situation.

Some examples of making yourself intentionally homeless includes:

  • Not paying your rent when you could have - however not being able to pay your mortgage because of significant financial difficulties that were out of your control i.e illness and redundancy will not be considered as intentional. 

  • Evicted because of antisocial behaviour

  • You could have stayed in your accommodation

When you are not intentionally homeless?

If you acted in good faith or weren't aware of something that caused you to become homeless, the council should accept that it's not intentional.

For example if:

  • you left your accommodation because you didn't know you had a right to stay, for example you left your home because your landlord gave you notice even though you could have stayed until a possession order was issued

  • you left your home because of misleading advice

  • someone you live with did or didn't do something, for example a family member you live with didn't pay the rent but they told you they had

If the council decides you are intentionally homeless

If the council decides that you intentionally caused your homelessness, it only has a duty to provide you with short-term accommodation, usually for 28 days.

For more information visit Shelter's website.

If the council decides you're not intentionally homeless

If the council decides that you are not intentionally homeless, it probably has a duty to provide you with long-term accommodation. Contact Southwark Housing for advice.

Home Improvement Agency

We provide repairs/renovations for owner occupiers and private tenants with repair responsibilities as well as disabled adaptations for owner occupiers, private tenants and housing association tenants,

Who is the service for?

Over 60’s, people of any age in receipt of a disability benefit.

Criteria for access to service

People can refer themselves or via occupational therapy.

Do you need to pay for this service?

The repairs, renovations and adaptations are provided by way of a grant. All grants are means tested. However, people on passporting benefits automatically qualify.

Fees do apply for the service but this is an allowable expense on the grants. Some people may have to make a financial contribution.

For more information please call:  0207 525 1873


Homesearch Bidding Support

Citizens Advice Southwark offer Homesearch Bidding Support sessions which are held every Thursday 10am-1pm for those who cannot use or access computers and who need support in registering for Homesearch or bidding on properties. The sessions provide help with:

  • Registering for Homesearch

  • Online bidding

  • Getting a My Southwark account

This is held at:

Bells Garden (SGTO) Community Centre,
Buller Close,
Peckham SE15 6UJ

Please note Citizens Advice Southwark are unable to provide specific housing advice for children and young people with Special Education Needs or Disabilities (SEND). For such advice, please contact:
Tel: Southwark Housing Options on 020 7525 5950

If you need support completing the Housing Options assessment/registering with Homesearch, please contact Southwark Citizens Advice Bureau.