New Homeless Link Backed Study Uncovers ‘Deep Roots’ of Homelessness

September 11, 2011

Nearly half of people who have slept rough in have a combined history of substance misuse, institutional care and street activities like begging, new UK research backed by Homeless Link has found.

(PRWEB UK) 12 September 2011

Nearly half of people who have slept rough in have a combined history of substance misuse, institutional care and street activities like begging, new UK research backed by Homeless Link has found.

The findings come from a two year study published today, are the first to systematically reveal the extent to which homelessness amongst single adults is linked with other problems such as mental ill-health, alcohol dependency and experience of institutions such as prison. It also makes clear the challenges facing services if they are to do more to help people with multiple problems.

According to the â˜Tackling homelessness and exclusion: Understanding complex livesâ report, a survey of 1286 adults using homelessness, drug and other services, found that:

-98% had experience of being homeless;

-70% had experienced of drug and/or alcohol problems;

-67% had a history of activities, such as begging and shop lifting;

-62% had spent time in prison, child care or other institutions; and

-47% had a history of all four.

Mental health problems were also widely reported, with four in five reporting a history of anxiety or depression and over a third saying they had attempted suicide(1).

The report, which draws together the findings of four separate studies, also examined what had happened to the people before they became homeless.

Among the factors associated with more complex experiences were:

-being male

-being aged between 20 and 49 years old (especially 30s)

-having experienced physical abuse or neglect, not enough to eat at home, or homelessness as a child

-having parents who experienced drug, alcohol, domestic violence or mental health problems

-having poor experiences of school such as truancy and exclusion

-having lived on welfare benefits for most of their adult life

The report also found that before people with complex problems seek help from homelessness agencies, they have often already been in contact with mental health, drug, criminal justice or social care services.

The authors of the â˜Understanding Complex Livesâ research have called for a number of measures to prevent homelessness and to prevent people with complex needs falling through the cracks, including:

-Greater understanding of the impact that a troubled childhood can have and more support for families who find themselves without a home.

-Recognition by drug, mental health and other services that they have a role to play in preventing homelessness

-More preventative support targeted at the critical points in a persons journey towards living on the streets

-Greater coordination between services, with agencies working together to meet the individual needs of clients.

-More work to target the needs of homeless men in their 30s.

Commenting, Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the umbrella body Homeless Link said:

âœThis research reveals the deep roots of homelessness. It shows that traumatic experiences in childhood and problems in later life can lie at the heart of why someone ends up on our streets.

âœThis should act as a wake-up call to services. We must not miss the opportunities that could prevent homelessness. This makes sense for both individuals and society.â

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

âœThis report makes clear the many reasons behind people leading chaotic lives and ending up on Britainâs streets. It also chimes with the results of my own research in this area.

âœThatâs why one of our first tasks in Government was to set up a cross-Whitehall group of eight ministers from eight different departments, dedicated to tackling the complex and far-reaching causes of homelessness. Weâve also maintained £400million homelessness grant funding.

âœI would urge the wide range of organisations dedicated to helping the homeless to examine these findings carefully and see how their services meet the many needs these most vulnerable people often have.â

Commenting Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:

âœThe lives of homeless people are often incredibly complex, so it is vital that the services they need reflect this. If weâre serious about preventing and tackling homelessness we need to target prevention and tackle the worrying level of distress faced by the homeless population.

âœWe need more flexible, personal services which reflect the complexity of individualâs lives so the government can achieve the vital ambition of ending rough sleeping.â

Notes to editors:

1.    Based on 452 in-depth follow up interviews

2.    The £700,000 Multiple Exclusion Homelessness (MEH) Research Programme is a partnership between the Economic and Social Research Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Homeless Link, Communities and Local Government and the Tenants Services Authority.


For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/9/prweb8783652.htm

Source: prweb

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