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Homelessness and Supporting People

Homelessness and Supporting People

McKee, K. and Phillips, D. (2012) “Social Housing and Homelessness Policies: reconciling social justice and social mix”, pp 227-242, in G.Mooney and G.Scott (eds) Social Justice and Social Policy in Scotland. Bristol: Policy Press.

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[Dibben, C., Atherton, I., Doherty, J., and Baldacchino, A. (2010) ‘Differences in 5-year survival after a ‘homeless’ or ‘housed’ drugs-related hospital admission: a study of 15–30-year olds in Scotland’ Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health]

Background:
Young drug misusers and the homeless both have a greater risk of death than their peers. This study sought to estimate the additional impact of homelessness on the risk of death for young drugs misusers.

Methods:
From all admissions to NHS hospitals in Scotland between 1986 and 2001, those that were: drug misuse related, for people born between 1970 and 1986 and aged over 15 years (n=13 303), were selected. All subsequent admissions and registrations of death were linked to this dataset. Each admission was coded as homeless if the health board of residence was coded as ‘no fixed abode’. 5-year survival after an admission was modelled using (1) life table and (2) proportional hazard models and then (3) differences in causes of deaths were explored.

Results:
Immediately after a drugs-related hospital admission there was no difference in survival between the homeless and those with a ‘fixed address’. However, over a 3-year period the risk for those who were homeless was 3.5 times greater (CI 95% 1.2 to 12.8). This elevated risk seemed to be particularly focused on the second year after an admission. The causes of death were similar for the two groups.

Conclusion:
Although a homeless hospital admission is associated with a greater risk of death for young drug users, it is also a point in time when a young person is in contact with public services. An attempt to link their discharge with housing services would seem a potentially productive policy.

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Doherty, J. and Edgar, B. (Eds.) (2008). In my Caravan, I feel like Superman: Essays in honour of Henk Meert. Brussels, FEANTSA pp.220

This volume is a celebration of the life and work of Henk Meert. The principal authors of the six chapters were members of the European Observatory on Homelessness during the period of Henk’s leadership (2001-2006). The final two chapters are hitherto unpublished papers written by Henk and his co-authors.

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[Doherty, J., Busch-Geertsema, V., Karpuskiene, V., Korhonen, J., O’Sullivan, E., Sahlin, I., Tosi, A., Petrillo, A. and Wygnanska, J. (2008) ‘Homelessness and Exclusion: Regulating public space in European cities’ Surveillance and Society, 5(3): 290-314]

Public space is an essential component of the daily life of homeless people, whether rough sleepers or hostel dwellers or others who are inadequately housed. During 2006 a group of researchers from the European Observatory on Homelessness2 considered the ways in which the increasing surveillance, regulation and control over public space, evident in all European cities, has impacted on the lives of homeless people. In this paper we chart the background to this latest phase in the ‘regulation of urban space’ and assemble evidence from across Europe and especially from our case study countries – Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden. We attempt an analysis of these trends using concepts of ‘border control’, ‘discipline’ and ‘deterrence’. We also consider a limited number of examples of resistance by and on behalf of homeless people to the imposition of restrictions on public space access. In the concluding section, we reflect on related wider societal processes associated with urban regulation and surveillance and their impact on the use of public space.

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[Taylor H., Stuttaford M., Broad B., Vostanis P. (2007) 'Listening to Service Users: Young Homeless People’s Experiences of Mental Health and Evaluation of a New Mental Health Service'. Journal of Child Health Care, September 2007, vol. 11, no. 3, 221-230]

The aim of this study was to investigate young homeless people's experiences of `Strong Minded', a new mental health service set up within selected homeless shelters and run by a voluntary sector organization. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 residents from five homeless shelters across the UK. All of the young people who had accessed Strong Minded had benefited from their engagement. The young people also identified several key inherent and important aspects of Strong Minded relating to both the practical, supportive therapeutic approach and the flexibility of the interventions offered, which contributed to the service's success. This service model of engaging vulnerable young people in transition could have useful implications for the future interface between voluntary and statutory mental health services.

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[Doherty, J. and Stuttaford, M. (2007) 'Preventing Homelessness among Substance Users in Europe' Journal of Primary Prevention, 28 (3): 245-263]

Prior to the 1970s, neither homelessness nor drug addiction was seen as issues of major concern in Europe. At most, they were of local interest and of particular importance only in some larger metropolitan centres. Over the last three decades they have come much more into public prominence and risen up in local and national policy agendas. At the level of the European Union (EU), however, while the use and abuse of drugs has attracted substantial financial resources and institutional involvement, homelessness, in comparison, has been relatively neglected and remains predominantly the concern of non-government and voluntary organisations. At all three levels—local, national, and European—it is only in recent years that the link between homelessness and problematic substance use has come to the fore as an issue of singular concern. This paper examines the recent emergence of policies and programmes which seek to tackle and prevent homelessness among substance users. Our investigation suggests that although new initiatives at the EU level are limited, at the national and especially sub-national level, effective programmes addressing both treatment and prevention are being designed and implemented.

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[Taylor, H., Stuttaford, M., Broad, B. and Vostanis P. (2007) 'Why a ‘Roof’ is not Enough: The Mental Health Characteristics of Young Homeless People Referred to a Designated Mental Health Service in England'.Journal of Mental Health, 15, 4, 491-501]

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[Stuttaford, M. (2007) 'Vulnerable children’s rights to services'. In P.Vostanis (ed) Mental Health Interventions and Services for Vulnerable Children and Young People, London: Jessica Kingsley]

[Anderson, L., Stuttaford, M. and Vostanis, P. (2006) 'A family support service for homeless children and parents: user and staff perspectives'. Child and Family Social Work, 11, 119-127]

Children and their parents who become homeless constitute a group of families with a complex range of social care and health needs, including mental health difficulties. In response to this, a local authority housing department established a family support team (FST) that provides assessment and detection of a range of problems, support to parents and children, parenting interventions for child behavioural problems, liaison with other agencies, and referral to specialist services when appropriate. The aim of this study was to establish the perceptions of parents and staff on their experience of the service, and ways of improving it in the future. The study adopted a developmental evaluation approach and used multiple methods, including in-depth interviews with families; diaries; reflective activities; participatory learning and action; and observation of the FST. The study mapped the innovative service and captured the range of skills in the team and the complexity of agencies the team interacted with. It also identified areas for further development in terms of the mental health needs of children and parents who have become homeless.

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[Doherty, J. (2005) ‘El origen del sinhogarismo: perspectivas europeas’ (The provenance of Homelessness in Europe) Documentación Social, 138:13-34]

Notwithstanding the approximate nature of the data on homelessness, the evidence indicates a serious level of homelessness and housing exclusion among significant numbers of Europe’s population. In this paper will explore some of the reasons put forward to explain the prevalence and persistence of a homelessness in Europe and briefly comment on the role of the EU in the development of perspectives and policies designed to deal with the problem. The paper reflects on the need for more precise and comprehensive statistics on homelessness and on some of the recent attempts to develop a common typology that might provide the framework for the collection of more reliable and consistent data. If European Nation States and the EU itself take seriously the dimensions of the problem revealed by ad hoc surveys and the periodic reports of homeless service providers, they need to put in place better recording instruments to provide consistent and up-to-date information on the level and trends in homelessness in order to devise effective policies and programmes to alleviate and prevent its occurrence.


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