Places of sanctuary for the undeserving? Homeless peoples
Places of sanctuary for the undeserving? Homeless peoples day centres and the problem of conditionality Graham Bowpitt, Reader in Social Policy, Nottingham Trent University Peter Dwyer, Professor of Social Policy, University of Salford Eva Sundin, Reader in Psychology, Nottingham Trent University Mark Weinstein, Senior Lecturer in Social Science Research Methods, Nottingham Trent University The Multiple Exclusion Homelessness Programme is jointly funded by the ESRC, JRF, DCLG. This project was funded by grant RES-188-25-0001. Day centres and homeless people Definition Services that provide a range of support that is not accommodation on a drop-in or sessional basis (Smith and Harding, 2005) Distinguishing features Broad scope: survival needs, practical help, information, advice and signposting Values: open accessibility and empowerment Availability, usage and resourcing in 2010
187 day centres in England Used by 12,500 service users per day 75,000 visits per year in Nottingham (2005) Served by 8000 staff, of whom 70% are volunteers 38% of funding from voluntary contributions 4 March 2020 2 The contested world of homeless peoples day centres Purpose 3 models (Walters, 1992) Spiritual/Missionary approach: day centres as places of containment and acceptance; Social work approach: day centres as places of rehabilitation and change; Community work approach: day centres as places of empowerment and resource
Day centres as contested places: how can they be both welcoming and challenging simultaneously? Day centres as sanctuaries: the paradox of places that are both safe and awesome 4 March 2020 3 Researching multiple exclusion homelessness: the HOME Study The samples included 108 multiply excluded homeless people: 74 men, 34 women 44 key informants: 14 managers, 30 frontline staff; working for 40 agencies, 12 in the public sector, 28 in the voluntary sector From Nottingham and London Evidence drawn from 69 day centre service users, and 4 day centre managers We wanted to find out
What brought people on to the streets What their priorities were while they were on the streets What led them to deal with their multiple exclusion homelessness The perspectives, priorities and constraints of service providers What contributed to success and failure in addressing multiple exclusion homelessness This paper will focus on the place day centres in street survival and escaping homelessness 4 Places of sustainment and acceptance Day centres commended for meeting street survival needs: food, washing, clean clothes, shelter, medical care, friendship and understanding; used disproportionately by men. Particular qualities stood out Accessibility: I was quite shocked to see a place like this where they just take you in and you can have your drink in there. And you can have food. (N50, Nottingham male) Flexibility and responsiveness: The key aim is to listen to what a client says and develop a set of priorities based on what they are telling you. (Manager,
Day centre 1, London) Undemanding friendliness: Even going to them was a sense of belonging because you had somebody around you and that was the biggest thing, having somebody to talk to. (L31, London male) Welcoming inclusiveness: We are working with people now that are barred from every accommodation service in the city. (Manager, Day centre 2, Nottingham) Problem: how do you welcome the most excluded without deterring the most vulnerable? 4 March 2020 5 Places of challenge and rehabilitation Day centres commended as sources of advice and advocacy in securing access to, for instance, housing, substance misuse and mental health services Particular qualities stood out Comprehensive helpfulness: They used to sit down and talk to us. Anything you need help with, housing, social security, they help you with that. They will help you with anything you need help with. (L29, London female) Solidarity: If you get arrested for prostitution they do a detour where you dont
have to pay a fine. You have to do two sessions with them; they visit you. Dont pay a fine; just go through (womens day centre). (L26, London female) Patient challenge: I was honest and able to talk to her, build up a relationship slowly They gave me clothes, sleeping bag, all these things, very grateful for it. But at the same time Im not getting too comfortable. (L50, London male) Transforming engagement: One of the challenges we have is that we dont want people just coming in and staying where they are. At the end of the day thats not actually helping them. (Manager, Day Centre 2, London) Problem: how do you challenge without forcing the pace of change? 4 March 2020 6 Places of resource and empowerment Day centres commended as sources of motivation and activity, providing access to opportunities for skill development, volunteering and ultimately employment Particular qualities stood out Supportive empowerment: They let you use the phones if you need to ring the Job Centre They do the Big Issue so you can get set up on that, so you can make money that way. (N13, Nottingham female) Inspirational dedication: The housing office, benefits agency, like to them you
are just a number. Youre not a person. They dont care about you. At least at the day centres they do especially when they are giving you like lunch for free, free meals and staff eat same food as you, sit down and talk to you. (L40, London male) Convivial activation: They have activities there and they get involved in that. There are football games once a week, quite a lot of activities, a bit of bonding going on, getting to know each other at a different type of level, seeing each other as humans, instead of just like numbers. (L40, London male) Problem: how do you retain a commitment to empowerment without being constricted by targets? 4 March 2020 7 Contested places Why did people not use day centres? Unsafe places: I didnt really like going to those two (day centres) because there were like too many what I call idiots that caused fights and bullying. (N35, Nottingham male) Places that drag you down: Some of the people you see going into day centres, I dont want to be with them I dont want to be in a room with an alcoholic I consciously make an effort to keep out of their way, so why would I
want to be stuck in a room with them? (L41, London male) Unable to meet conditions, e.g. paying for food, maintaining sobriety, having to be homeless How can these deterrents be overcome without losing accessibility? Being part of a network of facilities with varying policies; Personalising codes of acceptable behaviour; Avenues of redemption for the excluded. 4 March 2020 8 Conclusion Day centres occupy a unique place in the landscape of homelessness services, which would be incomplete without them. They provide a lifeline to the most vulnerable; Their accessibility, acceptability and lack of conditionality contrasts sharply with most other services; They are more effective in challenging unsustainable lifestyles because of these features, not in spite of them. By operating in this way, they resonate with ancient ideas of
sanctuary by providing A last refuge for the rejected and undeserving; A safe place from the demands of the world outside; A challenge to confront who they are; Hope for what they might become. 4 March 2020 9
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