Tackling hidden homelessness around England

Over the past 3 months Justlife has been working with IPPR North to share research into health and wellbeing of single homeless adults with a wide audience around the country. Numbers in temporary accommodation have risen 300% in the last 5 years, but this is just a fraction of the picture. Through the research, Justlife is providing a voice for and perspective from these people and the countless others who are hidden from the stats, living in unsupported temporary accommodation.

Events, forums and round table discussions in the North East, North West, South East and London have gathered services, policy folk, decision makers, health professionals, academics and local authorities to discuss how to tackle the issues that face single homeless adults in unsupported temporary accommodation from both a policy and practice perspective. Over 100 individuals from more than 50 different organisations have been involved in discussions and many more have read our work and given responses. In July we will be jointly running a workshop at the Homeless Link National Conference, which will raise awareness of this issue further and expand our knowledge as others are able to input into the work.

At both the North West and South East events tenants presented their experiences of living in unsupported temporary accommodation, alongside the data, providing a personal voice to the research.

Justlife and IPPR North are using the content of these discussions to feed into both policy and practice recommendations in this area. These recommendations will be tested and refined with Justlife service users – tenants of unsupported temporary accommodation, before we share them later this year.

If all this is new to you, please take a moment to read more about Justlife’s research:

Since 2013 Justlife has been engaging with the hidden homeless, to find out what life is really like for them. These people are single homeless residents living in unsupported temporary accommodation – UTA, namely B&Bs, private hostels and Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). The number of people living in this type of accommodation is not recorded in official statistics, but is estimated to be worryingly high. The number of statutory homeless households placed in B&Bs stood at 4,700 from July – September of 2014. The actual number living in UTA is likely to be five to ten times more than this.1

Supported by LankellyChase Foundation, Justlife and IPPR are investigating the long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of single homeless households living in UTA, through longitudinal qualitative research.

In the first year of research, 33 UTA tenants participated in in-depth interviews and most perceived detrimental implications for their physical and mental health. Among our group, 27 thought that their mental health had significantly worsened, citing an increase in stress and anxiety, as well as depression and other mental health conditions; 30 participants reported that their health had been affected by the damp and poorly maintained conditions of UTA, and 22 felt that the food given or cooking facilities available were inadequate for a healthy diet, or hazardous. All participants commented on drug use and excessive drinking on the premises, and (where applicable) that their own increased drug or alcohol use, or that of others, affected their lives.

For further information, stories and reports visit: www.justlife.org.uk/projects/justthinking/