Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Will the results of the latest street counts help to identify important services which should be protected from government funding cuts?

It seems that although some local authorities undertook street counts and others made estimates, the results from last years rough sleeper counts have been worthwhile.
A recent Homeless Link document (Rethink cuts-call to local authorities with high levels of rough sleepers) states that the results show both regional differences in homeless numbers and a connection between the recorded numbers and the current economic performance of a region. It highlights "rough sleeping in rural agricultural areas where the economic downturn has left Central and Eastern Europeans workers destitute when work contracts have run out" also areas such as  "Kensington and Chelsea, which is another authority planning substantial cuts, reported its highest number of rough sleepers since data has been collected". It explains that by using estimates as well as actual counts areas can highlight the need for more government funding in order to deal with homelessness issues.
Homeless Link suggest that cuts to funding would seriously undermine progress already achieved, stating that "A time of budget cuts should be a time to focus resources on the most vulnerable people, not a time to cut away the lifeline services and those enabling them to rebuild their lives.”

Will these new results help to stream line services and assist others to prove that the work they are already doing is vital to the success of ending homelessness?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Can we really end homelessness?

For hundreds of years homelessness has existed all over the world in one form or another. There have been many attempts to prevent or manage it. 

On one hand society says we should have freedom of choice about how we live our lives, but if this goes against the 'norm', we label the choice with a negative stereotype and eye them with suspicion.

From the top down (government to front line staff), everyone is working to end homelessness. Will it be OK to have few homeless people, or will we bring in tougher laws to make it impossible to sleep rough anywhere without being arrested irrespective of the support systems put in place?

Friday, 4 February 2011

Rural Homelessness

A recent article in Inside Housing suggests that homeless acceptance has increased by 25% in rural areas.
Along with ‘sofa surfers’and ‘squatters, rural homelessness is often considered as another category of hidden homelessness. As with many inner city areas, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as mental health issues, are associated with rural homelessness. However, rural services seem to have less funding and presence within the community than many of their urban counterparts. It therefore seems that many rural areas struggle to provide adequate support to the homeless clients.
Homeless Link have produced a document on service provision in rural areas which highlights many of the challenges facedIt also suggests ways services can improve and recommends looking at:

  • identifying specific needs that may differ in rural areas compared to more built up ones
  • how services can be accessed and if they are beneficial to service users and the community
  • whether particular services can work effectively in a rural area.
Having worked as an outreach worker in an urban environment I have limited knowledge of rural homelessness.  I would therefore be very grateful to learn what experience readers have had in rural areas and suggestions to improvthese services?