Supporting the homeless 10 years on

Supporting the homeless 10 years on

HOMELESSNESS remains a growing issue today with younger people and more women finding themselves without roofs over their heads.

Drug abuse is still a concern with increasing prevalence of Spice and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and more people are suffering from chronic physical health issues as a result of long term intravenous drug use and rough sleeping.

A shortage of accommodation due to increasing house prices and fewer properties being built is also adding to the existing difficulty of securing homes within the private rented sector.

As World Homeless Day (October 10) marks its 10th anniversary, it is apparent that while the causes of homelessness are much the same as they were 10 years ago, much has changed not least with the services available to help as we at Turning Lives Around are very much aware.

“People find themselves without a home for all kinds of reasons. Alcohol and substance abuse, mental health issues, release from prison or the armed forces, low incomes and domestic violence can all be contributory causes. Some people even choose to live on the street. What is apparent is there is seldom one reason behind them ending up on the streets and that is why services have adapted,” explained James Allen, Service Coordinator for Beacon, the supported accommodation service in which TLA is the lead partner.

Where once the solution to homelessness was thought to be ‘just give them a house’, there is now greater awareness of the part trauma and life experiences can play in shaping someone’s susceptibility to homelessness.

“Many  services have a greater understanding of the effect of trauma, mental health and childhood experiences and come at it from a position of ‘what’s happened to you’ leading to greater understanding and a more flexible approach,” explained James

Great strides have also been made in making sure support is targeted to individual needs.

“The client is much more involved in the planning of their support and, importantly, agreeing outcomes,” said TLA’s Chief Executive Janet Spencer.

“There is a much better multi-agency approach with services being more streamlined now, delivered by a small number of organisations working together with one lead. This gives less of a ‘one size fits all’ approach and gives people access to the specialist support they need.”

There is an increased awareness and focus on homelessness, especially street sleeping, at government level. The overriding strategy in Leeds has brought charities, police, housing, health and social care services together to see how they can work together to support people off the streets and sustain their recovery.

“There is a lot more understanding and recognition of the complexity of issues behind homelessness now. This is leading to services being better placed to support and enable people to move forward to live independently in their communities which is what TLA is about,” said Janet.