Any accommodation which is recognised as housing vulnerable young people can become a target for drug dealing, child criminal exploitation (CCE) or child sexual exploitation (CSE) activity. High support hostel type accommodation, which groups numbers of young people with high support needs together in one place, can be particularly at risk of this. Young people who have experienced trauma may find it particularly challenging to live in a hostel environment. Young people who struggle with emotional regulation can find the pressures of sharing space with others overwhelming. Noises, unfamiliar spaces and other people’s unpredictable behaviours can be triggering. These triggers can exacerbate existing mental health challenges or challenging behaviours. Differing levels of risk and vulnerability amongst residents can be hard for staff to manage effectively whilst also maintaining a fair and equitable offer to all residents. For these reasons, some young people who have experienced trauma will be deemed unsuitable for high support hostel accommodation. This group are unlikely to be considered for other lower support housing options because of their perceived levels of risk.

A consequence of this can be a significant number of young people who are effectively excluded from all existing services. In some circumstances they may be deemed intentionally homeless, with no recourse to housing, or accommodated in temporary or emergency placements which are typically costly and do not offer support.

For all these reasons, councils and providers have been exploring other approaches which might offer better opportunities to consider the impact of trauma, personalise accommodation and support, manage risk, and achieve better outcomes for young people for whom hostels are not an appropriate environment.


Trauma informed intensive support will look different in different settings. A trauma informed service offers a degree of personalisation which takes into account the needs of the individual from first contact, through being housed and supported, to a successful move on into appropriate longer term accommodation. This requires staff trained in trauma informed and psychologically informed approaches. It might also include:

  • Flexible and asset based multi-agency approaches to assessment.
  • Properties matched to the needs of the young person .
  • Self contained accommodation, or accommodation with a small number of units where use of shared spaces is optional .
  • Flexible approaches to complex or ‘information heavy’ processes such as sign up.
  • Access to support 7 days a week, daytime, evening and overnight.
  • Consistent, relationship based support, delivered by named keyworker(s).
  • Support tailored to the needs of the individual, in terms of how, when and where it is delivered.
  • Active transition planning from day one which identifies a clear pathway for moving on.

To learn more about how intensive support services can be delivered in a trauma informed way, read our short guide which explores trauma informed intensive support services from three different providers within the UK, and highlights key learnings from their experiences of delivering services for young people.

Key Learnings


Comparing Intensive Support Services




Trauma Informed Accommodation