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Getting help as a young person leaving home in a crisis

If you’re 15 or under and considering leaving home, you can call the free 24-hour Childline helpline on 0800 1111.

If you’re 16 or over and you need to leave home, contact the council’s homeless team. They must help you with somewhere to stay if you cannot stay at home.

If you've been cared for by social work as a young person, we have guidance on your housing options if you're leaving care.

If you're at risk

Call the police on 999 if you’re in immediate danger.

If you’re reporting something that happened before or you’re worried could happen later, call them on 101.

You can also:

Help with problems at home

If you have to leave home because of family arguments, or if you're asked to leave, you can ask a mediator to help you talk to your family or carers.

Mediators will not force you to do anything you do not want to do. They can help you agree on next steps like:

  • whether you’ll return home

  • if you’ll return home temporarily until you can find somewhere else to live

  • whether you and your family or carers will stay in contact

You’ll meet with the mediator first and they’ll get your permission to contact your family or carers.

Finding a mediator

Some councils will offer mediation services for families.

Find your local council’s website on

If the council does not offer this service, find a mediator on the Scottish Mediation website.

Getting help if you’re homeless

You do not have to be living on the streets to be homeless. Homelessness can mean sofa-surfing, staying with friends and living somewhere where you are not safe.

If you’re 16 or over and you have to leave home, the council must help you with somewhere to stay. Check our guidance on how to make a homeless application. You’ll need to tell the council that’s what you want to do.

If the council is refusing to help you contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Check your housing options

Social housing

If you’re 16 or over, you can apply for your own home anywhere in Scotland from the council or a housing association. Check our guidance on applying for social housing.

Private renting

You can apply for a private rented home when you're 16 or over. We have guidance on finding a private rented home.

Things to keep safe if you’re moving out

  • your passport

  • your birth certificate

  • your driving licence

  • your national insurance number card

  • your bank and credit cards

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England