A Christian homelessness charity has warned that the UK Government will fail in its mission to end rough sleeping if it does not address the chronic trauma suffered by people facing homelessness.
The caution from Oasis Community Housing comes following new research that reveals 94 per cent of people facing homelessness have experienced one or more traumas that have left them unable to access the help they need.
The study entitled Trauma and Homelessness commissioned by Oasis Community Housing consists of in-depth research with 115 people in its North East England and South London services who are facing homelessness. It also used information gathered as part of the England Fulfilling Lives programme that over eight years worked with around 4,000 people facing a variety of social needs.
The research found 50 per cent of those facing homelessness have experienced five or more traumas, including sexual or domestic abuse, violence, family death or war.
It revealed that each trauma “increased the risk of mental ill-health, lack of self-care, substance misuse, the inability to concentrate or learn, and homelessness amongst others. All these effects of trauma, when unaddressed, also impact people’s capacity to remember to attend appointments or properly manage tenancies, creating a vicious cycle of homelessness”.
CEO of Oasis Community Housing said there needs to be a trauma-informed approach to tackling homelessness.
He told Premier: “When you see someone in the street, I really think the question that we should be asking yourself is not ‘how did you get to this point in your life?’ The question is, ‘what happened to you?’ And for this research shows that for the vast majority of people who are experiencing homelessness, something, and in many cases, many things happen to them that will lead them to this point.”
The study also found 63 per cent of respondents reported four or more traumatic experiences over a prolonged period. Meanwhile, two in three people directly link trauma and its impact to their current housing situation, and 35 per cent of people feel their trauma is preventing them moving on from homelessness.
The research accompanied with a report was launched in parliament on Tuesday. Smith told politicians “a national trauma-informed training programme delivered by Government, would save lives as well as taxpayer’s pounds.”
He told Premier: “We're calling on government to do four things. The first is just to establish minimum standards for the delivery of a trauma informed approach to homelessness support. So that's like a national framework.
“The second thing is about then developing and rolling out a trauma informed training program for those people that deliver frontline homelessness services.
“The third thing is then asking that commission services, like local authorities and other bodies who actually commission homelessness services, only use those services that have this trauma informed approach.
“Then finally, that we also develop dedicated mental health pathways for people experiencing homelessness, because there are particular challenges for those facing homelessness when it comes to accessing mental health support and that can be so critical to dealing with those traumas.”
This week, new London City Hall analysis revealed the number of homeless people capital has increased by 21 per cent year on year.
Listen to Premier's interview David Smith: