We believe that everyone should have a safe place to stay
In Autumn 2018, official figures counted or estimated there to be 4677 people sleeping rough on a single night across England, over 165% higher than in 2010. However, the report notes that “accurately counting… is inherently difficult… A range of factors… can impact on the number of people seen… This includes the weather, where people choose to sleep, the date and time chosen, and the availability of alternatives such as night shelters”.
Sleeping rough is a particularly dangerous thing to do, with the Guardian reporting that the life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 43, half that of the UK average.
But rough sleeping figures only give a hint of the challenge we face. According to the government, in 2017 there were 112,200 separate applications to councils as a result of homelessness or the risk of homelessness. Of these households, just 57,890 were subsequently considered ‘statutory homeless‘ and thus eligible for assistance. Single homeless people, for example, rarely qualify for longer-term or emergency housing, particularly if they cannot prove they have a ‘local connection’.
Many of the people who fall through the gaps will stay in hostels, in squats or B&Bs, or in ‘concealed’ housing, such as on the floors or sofas of friends and family. These ‘hidden homeless‘ are unlikely to be counted in official statistics.
In fact, analysis from homelessness campaining and support charity Shelter in November 2018 reported that 320,000 people across Britain were homeless, which is why people speak of a ‘homelessness crisis’.
Welcoming the increase in government funding to tackle homelessness that was announced in 2018, Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales Chief Executive, commented that: “It doesn’t go far enough in stopping people from becoming homeless in the first place. The housing market is broken and in dire need of fixing. The lack of house building, high rents, issues in the social security system and increased deposit demands are a toxic cocktail. Unless these issues are addressed and there are enough affordable homes, we won’t be able to truly eradicate homelessness for good.”
Why do people become homeless?
Individuals can be homeless for a variety of reasons and often the cause is a number of factors combined. There are undoubtedly social causes, such as a lack of affordable housing and poverty, but issues such as mental health, debt, relationship breakdown, substance misuse and unemployment can play a major role.
The three main reasons given by homeless people for losing their previous place of residence (gov.uk) were:
- Parents, friends or relatives unwilling or unable to continue to accommodate them
- Relationship breakdown, including domestic violence
- Loss of an assured shorthold tenancy
Find Out More
Homelessness is a hugely complex issue. For our part we focus on providing short-term supported housing to vulnerable people and then equipping those residents with the skills they require to achieve or return to independent living.
Find out more about the work we do to combat homelessness in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch here.
For more information about the issue of homelessness, please visit Homeless Link.
If you’d like to help us combat homelessness, find out how here.
If you are in the local area and are homeless or in danger of becoming so, or if you are concerned about someone who is, please see our Find Help section.
YMCA Bournemouth is a founding member of a collective of 29 organisations working together to combat homelessness. Streetsupport.net provides local information about the services available to those experiencing homelessness and the organisations that can help.
This video was made by Key Light Films.
“The housing market is broken and in dire need of fixing. The lack of house building, high rents, issues in the social security system and increased deposit demands are a toxic cocktail. Unless these issues are addressed and there are enough affordable homes, we won’t be able to truly eradicate homelessness for good.”
Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales Chief Executive
Danny has battled hard to get himself free of addiction but last year he also battled for others by organising a coffee morning in aid of cancer care.
Mehdi is now a very successful businessman in Bournemouth but it has been a very difficult journey. A stay at YMCA Bournemouth changed his life.