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 faced. It 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 improve these services?