The top 10 myths of UTA: the third myth
This is the third instalment of Gary Bishop’s – CEO of Justlife Foundation – top ten myth busting short reads about unsupported temporary accommodation. If you’ve missed the first two, you can read about myth one, ‘It’s only a handful of people,’ here and myth two, ‘It’s better than living on the streets,’ here. As ever, we ask that you please read, share, give.
MYTH 3: ‘Most of those people choose to live like that’
Three years ago we started a research project called Just Thinking, it was a serious study in partnership with the Institute of Public Policy and Research North looking at the impact of unsupported temporary accommodation on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable adults. Our researchers followed the journey of UTA residents throughout the 3 years and at the beginning there were certain things which we expected to hear such as; the conditions are awful, its damp, the management is corrupt etc. etc. To our surprise these things were not the top of the list of the reported problems people face. THE top thing which homeless people living in unsupported temporary accommodation said affected their well-being was the lack of control which they have over their lives. Lack of control of themselves, lack of control of their immediate surroundings, lack of control over the system. Everything that happens, happens TO them, every day was a prison which constrained them and chorused their life ad prospects.
Here’s a thing:
When a homeless person is offered a room in UTA they do have a choice. They can choose option 1: accept the room, regardless of the conditions, location or surroundings and live with the consequences or they can choose option 2: refuse the room and be labelled as ‘intentionally homeless’. To be labelled as ‘intentionally homeless’ because – lets say the room you are offered is full of pigeons or the mattress in the room of covered in blood – jeopardises the prospect of you ever being housed through a homelessness service in any locality across the country for years and years – potentially forever…… Not much of a choice then.
If you’re ever tempted to think that most homeless people choose that way of life for all its freedom and pleasure, please think again, there is a bit more too it than you might think.
Supporting Justlife will help us to make real and lasting system change as well as providing frontline service to hundreds of people in need everyday.