MRC Seminar - Tackling Homelessness and Exclusion: Understanding Compex Lives

Wednesday 25 April 2012, 12.30PM to 3.45pm

Speaker(s): Dr Michelle Cornes, Research Fellow, King's College London; and Peter Dwyer, Professor of Social Policy, Univesity of Salford

For some people, homelessness is not just a housing issue but something that is inextricably linked with complex and chaotic life experiences. Mental health problems, drug and alcohol dependencies, street culture activities and institutional experiences (such as prison and the care system) are often closely linked with the more extreme experiences of homelessness. The Multiple Exclusion Homelessness research programme sought to find out more about these overlaps, and consider how services can respond to complex lives where homelessness is just one issue amongst many. 

The research programme comprised four separate projects; this research briefing will focus on two: ‘re thinking multiple exclusion homelessness - implications for workforce development and inter-professional practice’ ; and, 'comparing the priorities of multiply excluded homeless people and support agencies ’ . The programme, a partnership between the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), JRF, Homeless Link, Tenant Services Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was set up in 2008. DCLG funding was approved by the previous Government.

Findings from the research programme include:

  • Nearly half of service users reporting experience of institutional care, substance misuse, and street activities (such as begging), as well as homelessness.
  • ‘Visible’ forms of homelessness commonly happen after contact with non-housing agencies, for example mental health services, drug agencies, the criminal justice system and social services.
  • Traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect and homelessness are part of most street homeless people’s life histories.
  • Where homelessness and housing support agencies take on primary responsibility for supporting people with multiple and complex needs, workers can often feel isolated and out of their depth. It has been suggested elsewhere that housing support workers are now filling the gap left by the retreat of social workers from direct work with adults.

Michelle Cornes, a researcher in the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, has research interests in the housing and social care workforce, interprofessional and integrated working, and evaluations of community care policy and practice. She has been awarded further funding from ESRC for 2012 to develop knowledge exchange and impact generating activities around multiple exclusion homelessness.

Peter Dwyer is Professor of Social Policy, University of Salford. His research and teaching is focused on two main themes: first, a critical engagement with the notion of social citizenship, especially in relation to social inclusion/exclusion and welfare conditionality; second, the impact of international migration on welfare states and migrants' rights. His work has been funded by a range of organisations including the ESRC, JRF and the European Commission.

Location: York

Email: jane.phythian@york.ac.uk

Telephone: 01904 421218