No single solution for homelessness
People’s experience of homelessness and their paths out of it can vary greatly, a charity has found.
Groundswell UK did a nine-month research project looking at 25 people who had stopped being homeless.
They also interviewed one personal and one professional contact for each of the subjects of the study, The Escape Plan.
Researcher Mike Hudson said: ‘Each story was unique and there were many apparent contradictions.
‘Some people said it was all their own efforts that turned things around, others insisted that it was only when they stopped fighting services and engaged that they could make any headway in their journey.’
The people involved in the project had slept rough for more than six months, lived in a hostel for more than six months or had been sofa surfing for more than six months.
For some, the homelessness experience was viewed with affection and a strong sense of camaraderie, Mr Hudson said, while others said it had been a nightmare.
Some common experiences emerged in the research, such as a changing attitude towards themselves and others, and overcoming pride and trusting people.
‘Getting involved in some kind of group activity, like training or volunteering, was vital for many,’ Mr Hudson said.
‘Crucially it was about starting to regain self worth, which meant looking beyond their own needs, giving back, developing confidence, finding structure, escaping boredom and regaining a sense of belonging.’
Many of the participants also talked about hitting ‘rock bottom’ before they started to want to get themselves out of their situation.
Groundswell is using the findings from the research to work with the umbrella organisation Homeless Link to develop a training program for staff in the sector.