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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2011): Homelessness - UK

Exploring homeless people’s use of outreach services: applying a social psychological perspective

J. Christian, D. Clapham and D. Abrams

Housing Studies, vol.26, 2011, p. 681-699

During the past two decades, housing policy in Britain has focused on providing a range of services that reach out to homeless people and offer interventions intended to help them reintegrate into mainstream society. However, little attention has been paid to why homeless people take part in or resist outreach services, possibly leading to such services being inappropriately designed and targeted. This paper develops an innovative approach to investigating why homeless people engage with outreach services, combining the social identity theory with the pathways model. This framework is then applied to predict the uptake of outreach services in a prospective study of 121 homeless people in a UK city.

Exploring multiple exclusion homelessness

P. Dwyer and P. Somerville (guest editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol. 10, 2011, p. 495-593

People with multiple needs and effectively deeply excluded from society are most likely to be either in prison or homeless. The New Labour government made substantial funds available for the development of support services to tackle the root causes of social exclusion and homelessness and for research, including the ESRC’s Multiple Exclusion Homelessness programme. The articles in this themed section cover a range of issues related to multiple exclusion homelessness, including:

  • Looking at how the multitude of agencies supporting homeless people go about their work
  • The impact of gender on the experience of multiple exclusion homelessness
  • The role of conditionality in the day-to-day practice of Drop In Centre managers
  • Young homeless people’s experience of hostels
  • The motivations of a group of homeless and vulnerably housed people to enter paid work
  • A review of the key themes and discourses that were central to homelessness and housing support policy under New Labour.

Homelessness and mental health: adding clinical mental health interventions to existing social ones can greatly enhance positive outcomes

P. Cockersell

Journal of Public Mental Health, vol. 10, no.2, 2011, p. 88-98

Traditionally in the UK, the problem of homelessness has been tackled through a combination of housing provision and a range of social interventions. However the multiple social interventions offered are not as effective as hoped and expected and homeless people can become trapped in a revolving door cycle of transient engagement with a multitude of institutions and services. There is now a growing body of opinion which suggests that the root causes of homelessness are psychological, and that the perspectives of psychoanalysis and psychology could be useful in understanding the problems and in promoting practice which helps to resolve them. A pilot project run by homelessness charity St Mungo’s supports this hypothesis. The addition of individual psychotherapy to the range of social interventions already available to a group of clients increased positive outcomes significantly across all the measured domains of activity.

Homelessness could spread to middle class, study warns

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Aug. 31st 2011, p. 1

The economic downturn and the government’s deep cuts to welfare will drive up homelessness over the next few years, raising the spectre of middle class people living on the streets, a major study warns. The report by the homelessness charity Crisis, seen by the Guardian, says there is a direct link between the downturn and rising homelessness as cuts to services and draconian changes to benefits shred the traditional welfare safety net. In the 120-page study, co-authored by academics at the University of York and Heriot-Watt University, Crisis highlights figures released over the summer that show councils have reported 44,160 people accepted as homeless and placed in social housing, an increase of 10% on the previous year and the first increase in almost a decade. Last year another 189,000 people were also placed in temporary accommodation – such as small hotels and B&Bs – to prevent them from becoming homeless, an increase of 14% on the previous year. (See also The Guardian, Aug. 31st 2011, p. 12-13)

Welfare, exclusion and rough sleeping in Liverpool

C. Kinsella

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 31, 2011, p. 240-252

Liverpool Council has aspirations of the city attaining world class status by 2024. In its rush to regenerate the city and improve its image, the council is seeking to sweep away the visible presence of street homeless people. Rough sleepers and street homeless people are ignored in Liverpool’s Homelessness Strategy 2008-11. It is argued that the lack of consideration within the document given to rough sleepers or the street homeless is indicative of negative constructions of unorthodox use of public space, and punitive responses to those viewed as undesirable in the light of the city’s current public image. It is concluded that the city, while it prioritises its goal of becoming a ‘world class city’, fails to deliver in terms of its welfare obligations.

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