Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2012

Highway to hell: The grim journey to multiple exclusion homelessness - and the route back

There is a ‘fact’ doing the rounds on twitter which juxtaposes the information that Madonna has, allegedly, eight mansions in London with the number of homeless people in the capital, the implicit proposition being that homelessness could be ended if only the ostentatious wealth of the celebrated performer were redirected for the social purpose of housing the homeless. I found the image of hundreds of homeless people living in communal nirvana in Madonna’s mansions entertainingly surreal. This injustice ‘fact’ has been re-tweeted with gusto, so presumably there really are people who think that solving homelessness is a matter of matching people with accommodation, whether it be a mansion or a bedsit and that’s it – job done.   The truth is that homeless people, especially those living on the streets or close to it in hostels, squats and bed and breakfast hotels, have a complex mix of needs including poor mental health, substance misuse problems, poor literacy skills and limit

London 2012: The changing face of rough sleeping

  Walking the streets of central London in the late evening chill I was struck by the extraordinary changes to the profile of the rough sleeping population in the capital. This particular evening in question I spoke with dozens of people busy wrapping up tightly against the cold. Individual human beings showing different emotions: the anxious, the paranoid, the sinister, the confused, the phlegmatic, the desperate, the bewildered. In some respects there has been no change to the rough sleeping profile. Most of the people I spoke to sleeping rough that night were male, white and aged from 25 to 45. This has been the profile for a number of years. Research published recently by Heriot Watt University [1] into homelessness and social exclusion provides strong evidence that it is males in this age range who suffer from the most significant levels of social exclusion and particularly men in their 30’s, who are referred to by the researchers as ‘the forgotten middle’. The reasons why the