I’ve done a little Twitter research and, with help, identified a few of the barriers to members of the public utilising rough sleepers helplines. Here is how I have interpreted them:
- Members of the public are perhaps unlikey to understand how outreach teams operate
- Frequent sight of large numbers of rough sleepers may mean someone is less likely to report it (in large cities, for instance)
- Fear of rough sleepers (personal safety issues)
- Belief that reporting person would have to approach rough sleeper
- Belief that the rough sleeper would have to appear to be distressed
- Not knowing that there are rough sleeper helplines!
- General apathy toward rough sleepers and the perception that other members of the public feel apathetic, too
- Wariness of outreach teams’ intentions (eg. news reports about doorways being hosed down to prevent rough sleepers returning - a ‘clean up the streets’ agenda)
I would welcome any more comments and suggestions. Please add to the box below and I’ll tag on to the list.
By the way, rough sleeper helpline numbers can be found here.
Photograph by Ciara Leeming
Several months ago, we decided to produce something from our research that would engage a larger, more diverse audience than those who would normally take an interest in academic research findings. This project has given us a great opportunity to do so. Because the life stories of the people we interviewed during the course of the research were so rich, informative, and thought-provoking, we felt they were worthy of being retold to a wider audience. Our idea was to produce a graphic novel telling a small selection of the stories told to us.
We were introduced, via a colleague in the University’s Art School, to Sam Dahl. At the time, Sam was completing his postgraduate studies at the University and has been working hard at providing the artwork for the book ever since. We’ve taken five diverse stories to provide the content for the graphic novel and each depicts a different pathway that precedes an episode of homelessness. The working title of the book is ‘Somewhere Nowhere’ and refers to the displacement that people often described in their life story: they knew where they were in time and space but were unclear of their place in their life journey.
We’re pleased to share a small sample of the images from the book here. Though these are all based on the real life stories of our participants, note that the names used here are anonymised and care has been taken to remove clearly identifiable information.
The following images are taken from Scott’s story. He described experiencing a happy, normal childhood which was destroyed by an incident of sexual abuse. For Scott, this was a turning point in his life which led to many other factors often associated with the term ‘complex lives’: family rejection, rough sleeping, substance misuse, and poor physical health.
The graphic novel is scheduled for completion at the end of May where it will be available for people to take away and read at our research dissemination event in Stoke. In a future post, I will publish some more details about the book’s distribution. We’d like it to be read as far and wide as possible. We hope the book will be easy for anybody to pick up and read regardless of their knowledge of homelessness. We also hope it will enable new audiences to learn more about the complexity of people’s lives and the problems they may be addressing before and during their episodes of homelessness.
If you have any feedback, questions, or comments about Somewhere Nowhere, please leave them in the box below. We’d be really interested to hear what people have to say about it.
I am one of the researchers working on the project and have been involved in interviewing key services across Stoke to explore responses to homelessness from a service provider perspective. I am off to the Australasian Housing Researchers’ Conference (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/churp/ahrc12/) next week to present our findings from these interviews.
This is the abstract for my presentation:
The response to homelessness in the UK has moved away from focusing specifically on housing policy to a recognition of the complex needs of those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. A key characteristic has been an emphasis on multi-agency working at a local level. This paper reports on findings emerging from a two-year study into homelessness in a UK city. The project as whole explored the life histories of people experiencing homelessness as well as focusing on the context in which homelessness services were delivered in the city. To this end, a number of people working in the ‘homeless industry’ were interviewed about the issues impacting upon their work. Based upon these interviews, this paper focuses on the response of service providers towards homelessness, exploring the mobilisation of multi-agency working, and examining how service providing professionals talk about the people they work with and alongside. It highlights an increasing ‘professionalization’ of key services, a hierarchy of organizations and a conflict between cooperation and competition in multi-agency working. Overall, it illustrates that competition between services, coupled with the ‘financial crisis’, has created an environment where organizations more often work with those individuals deemed most likely to ‘succeed’. Consequently, supporting individuals with the most complex needs remained a key issue for service providers.
We would welcome comments on any of the issues raised above…