Losing and finding a home:Homelessness, multipleexclusion and everyday livesReport launchMitchell Arts Centre, Hanley25th May 2012 Research award: RES-188-25-0016
Background• In 2009 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) launched a co-funded programme of research into ‘Multiple Exclusion Homelessness’.• The aim was to help inform national and local policy and practice when tackling homelessness across the United Kingdom (UK).
Multiple Exclusion Homelessness• Not a new label but aims to describe those people who are among the most vulnerable, routinely excluded and costly to society• Focuses upon homelessness +• + worklessness + poverty + severe mental health problems + drug and alcohol dependencies + state care + the criminal justice system and so on
Key current policy in England• Local authorities need strategies to deal with homelessness• Investment into hostel provision• End to rough sleeping by 2012• Set up of Working Group across government
Problems underpinning policy• Credit crunch – increase in numbers of homeless households• Increase in the use of temporary accommodation• Reduction in various welfare budgets• Reduction in funding available to public and voluntary sector services
A glimmer of hope• Little evidence of a drive to develop strategic approaches to homelessness as the house of cards tumble• But... – Increasing focus on ‘troubled families – Renewed interest in ‘invest to save’ models of thinking – Social impact bonds – drawing down private finance to deliver social good
Our broad aims1. Draw attention to issues affecting multiply excluded homeless people2. Understand their circumstances, their challenges and their everyday lives3. Explore how we might best help to tackle these complex issues in the future
The situation in Stoke• 16,340 children are living below the poverty line• 73 claimants apply for every job• 200 people have been found rough sleeping in North Staffordshire• Rent restrictions for the under 35’s may mean people move on from their current accommodation
The situation in Stoke• Massive industrial decline• Ranked the 17th most deprived area, a third of the area amongst the most deprived in the country• Pro-active approach to tackling homelessness in place for the last 7 years.
• 18 interviews with people providing various services.• 104 interviews with people who were homeless or multiply excluded in some way.• Aim was to get a thorough, detailed and rich picture of the lives people were leading.• Importantly – did not start with their homelessness but asked people to tell us about their lives
The lives people lead...• Complexity surrounds almost everything - there is an enormous range of homelessness circumstances, the events which have preceded it, the ways in which it is experienced and perceived – the unique, individual, and complex experience of homelessness and exclusion
Lauren, 18 It all started around 9, 10 when my mum and dad split up and then I started the drink and the drink led to like sex and drugs and loads of stuff like that and then it got for years I was going out fighting with people. It was like no one could save me and then my dad kicked me out and my sister took me on and then she kicked me out and then I met a partner. Domestic violence. He battered me when I was pregnant, so theres loads of stuff.
The reasons people becomehomeless• Very rarely a single ‘risk ‘ factor.• More likely there are ‘triggers’ that can build up over time. For some traumatic experiences during childhood go someway to laying the foundations
Gemma, 31 My mum and dad were both smackheads. They didn’t have a clue what to do with us. The house was filthy, disgusting. We were hardly ever fed. My dad abused my sister on a regular basis. You know, it was just mental cruelty. They used to ask us what we wanted form the chippy, go out get it and then eat it in front of us instead of giving us it. My dad put his roll-ups out on me and on my sisters and brothers. My nan used to come, my mum’s mum, and she used to try her best but she was old, couldn’t cope with us. Then social services got involved and we got taken away.
The reasons people becomehomeless• For many others the stories people tell are often constructed against a high prevalence of parental divorce, parental absence, unsettled family lives and a lack of affection.
Patrick, 21 My dad couldnt cope with it through whatever reasons of his own, so he left my mum, like. Decided that part while my mum was in hospital. I went into Social Services, into care.Ollie, 26 Im like the black sheep of the family I am, pushed out…You need your family around you. Ive got no family around me, not even my little girl.
Lauren, 18 My mum moved away…I was living with my dad and my dad was seeing other women, bringing other women in the house and I was fighting with my dad’s girlfriends…and then it was like my dad was kicking me out. I had nowhere to live and then loads of stuff.
Managing homelessness• Homelessness was rarely the central event in people’s life.• The relationships they had at the time, their substance misuse, their friends, looking for work all tended to feature as more important than whether they had secure accommodation
Managing homelessness• People we spoke to experience of rough sleeping, sofa surfing, camping in fields, staying with friends, temporary accommodation, hostels.• One of the surprises from the research was the positive impact hostels tended to have for people
Ewan, 20 you cant just rely on your support worker to get you a house if youre not committed. Youve got to show progression and youve got to be committed and show that you are capable of doing these responsible activities that life has to hold for you. If no one wants to help themselves they aint gonna get very far, are they.
People with purpose• Far from being hopeless and passed around from pillar to post most people demonstrated a lot of agency in their lives• The presence of purpose – Search for stability – Relationships (familial and romantic) – Escape from ‘wrong crowd’ – Desire for work
Billy, 23 I went to the Job Centre and they told me about something called the Future Jobs Fund...’it’s only a six month thing but it’ll be good for you. It’ll get you another job’ She went through the list of jobs ‘Ill go for that please duck’ . A week later she rang me up ‘Hi Billy you start next week’.
Tackling homelessness• Service provision• Reaching an epiphany/rock-bottom• Looking for opportunities• Support from others – particularly key workers
Derek, 26 [name] who works down there, well shes an absolute diamond…shes seen a fair few things. But she turned round and said to me, “The way I see it… when youre lying on your death bed, are you going to be able to turn around to yourself and say Im quite happy with everything Ive done in my life. I feel like Ive helped people, I feel like everything that Ive done, all the bad things, I feel like Ive done enough right to counterbalance that. Ive sort of made a positive impact on this world,” and thats a really bloody mantra to live by when you think about it.
Key point – people are rarelyvictims Graham, 51 - On understanding homelessness You can have an opinion about somebody, don’t judge him. You don’t know why he ended up there. “Oh, he’s a tramp”. You know fuck all about his life…Weve all got stories. Youve got a story behind you somewhere, know what I mean? Weve all got stories, weve all got sad ones, tragic ones, course we have, but don’t go round judging ‘em, you know what I mean.
Conclusions• Homeless for many was just part of a whole host of other experiences. Significant yes, but does not define them.• Homelessness often came later or last in their life stories – they are people first• People are not as hopeless as they can be portrayed – demonstrate high levels of agency
Conclusions• Simplistic structural solutions are inadequate due to the sheer complexity of the issues concerned• Need for psychologically informed approaches listening, personalisation and empowerment• Not just a public , community and voluntary sector issue
The advisory group Gill Brown (Brighter Futures) John Farrar (YMCA) Christina Harrison (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) Sarah Haydon (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) Simon Lovatt (YMCA) Jane Morton (Stoke-on-Trent NHS) Lisa Reilly (Arch North Staffordshire) Stephen Robbins (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) Gary Thomas (Salvation Army) Samantha Williamson (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)
Further informationDr Philip Brown email@example.com This grant is co-funded between ESRC, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Research award: RES-188-25-0016