FEANTSA 9th Annual European Research Conference - Homelessness in a Time of Crisis

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Innovation in Social Integration: Social Enterprise, Social Integration and Education Services for homeless people, lessons from the UK Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace The debates around the effectiveness of housing-led/Housing First services are coming to an end, as the global evidence base showing high level and sustained success in ending even chronic homelessness, across a range of contexts and welfare systems, grows ever deeper and more extensive. Yet while it has become apparent that there is, in Housing First, in a very clear majority of cases, a new, effective approach that ends homelessness and sustains housing, questions still exist about what then happens to formerly homeless people who have been re-housed. These questions are humanitarian, practical and political and all centre on social integration. The humanitarian questions centre on overcoming what can be stigmatisation, alienation, isolation, poor social and emotional supports and a lack of economic inclusion, including access to adequately paid work. The practical questions are related, centring on the quality of life of people who have been rehoused by Housing First services and the various risks to health, well-being and, in turn to medium and long-term housing sustainment, if social integration is only partial or is absent altogether once someone has been rehoused. The political questions also centre on a lack of social integration, both in the sense of community and societal cohesion, but also on reducing the costs of what might be termed “post-homelessness” to welfare and health systems, by maximising formerly homeless people’s capacity to look after, and pay for, themselves. In the UK, various experiments with models focused as much on social integration as on housing sustainment and with services primarily or solely designed to promote social integration for homeless people are well underway. This paper looks at two examples, the employment of a “Time Banking” model to socially and economically integrate homeless people in London and finally the Skylight programme developed and run by the UK homelessness charity Crisis. Skylight is a national programme, providing some support with health, well-being and housing sustainment, but which is primarily focused on social integration, with a particular emphasis on promoting access to paid work for homeless and previously homeless people. This paper draws on the results of three studies by the authors, two of which were recently completed and the third of which, on Crisis Skylight, has just published the first year of results from a three-year long longitudinal evaluation. The paper assesses the effectiveness of these service models in promoting social integration for homeless people, considers the benefits and costs of these approaches and draws out wider lessons from UK experience for other EU member states.
Period19 Sept 2014
Event titleFEANTSA 9th Annual European Research Conference - Homelessness in a Time of Crisis
Event typeConference
LocationWarsaw, PolandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational