Social Science research on homelessness sparks Parliamentary debate

MP Lilian Greenwood uses Persistent Rough Sleeping research from Nottingham Trent University to open a debate in Parliament

The recent publication on persistent rough sleepers in Nottingham was used as the backbone of a debate in Parliament this week ahead of the publication of the Government’s rough sleepers strategy.  This report builds on a longstanding academic and agency engagement with rough sleeping across Nottingham and builds directly from the Opportunity Nottingham programme. This report looked at the issues of persistent rough sleeping across Nottingham and identified 72 individuals who fit the definition.

A persistent rough sleeper is someone who was recorded sleeping rough on at least 10% of nights between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, i.e. 36 nights (the ‘sustained’), or who has been seen sleeping rough in at least three out of the six years between 2012 and 2017 (the ‘recurrent’).

Dr Graham Bowpitt and Karan Kaur identified nine common themes affecting the 72 persistent rough sleepers identified in Nottingham.  Their report challenges a number of assumptions and highlights that complex needs impact on a person’s ability to move away from homelessness. Opportunity Nottingham works with individuals with multiple complex needs (substance misuse, offending, mental ill-health, and homelessness) Of the 72 persistent rough sleepers 72% exhibit all four needs, 93% have issues with substances, 51% are affected by mental ill-health and 68% are at risk of offending or have offended.  This report aims to share a perspective on rough sleeping in an archetypal UK city.

Lilian Greenwood MP for Nottingham South, who tabled the debate, spent time with Dr Graham Bowpitt to discuss the research and explore how Nottingham could support people with complex needs who are rough sleeping. She used the debate to question the Government’s developing strategy on homelessness and seek further details on funding promises made during the last Budget. The debate was also an opportunity to highlight that systemic and personal factors intertwine in the lives of rough sleepers.  The report calls for:

  • the use of personalised housing plans,
  • developing a Housing First approach locally,
  • recognising that people have complex relationships and may have a reason for leaving or refusing accommodation,
  • social care assessments to be made available for all who require them,
  • services to support short-term prisoners on discharge and
  • continuation of personalised services for rough sleepers and recognition of the network of organisations which help deliver support

The debate in Parliament provided a spotlight on this growing issue.  We hope Nigel Adams, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government takes up Lilian Greenwood’s invitation to visit Nottingham to view the services here and we extend to him an invitation to speak with Dr Graham Bowpitt and colleagues about the issues highlighted in the report and our ongoing evaluation of Opportunity Nottingham.

At Nottingham Civic Exchange we believe developing meaningful engagement with MPs, Parliament and policymakers is crucial to ensuring Nottingham Trent University research extends its impact beyond academia to enrich society and create opportunities to improve it. If you’d like to explore how to share your research, Nottingham Civic Exchange is available to support you.

Download No Way Out: A Study of Persistent Rough Sleeping in Nottingham here

Nottingham Civic Exchange

Nottingham Civic Exchange has been established by Nottingham Trent University to maximise research, policy and practical impact by bringing together university expertise with partners seeking to address the needs of local communities. Nottingham Civic Exchange acts as a resource to look at social and economic issues in new ways. This means facilitating debate, acting as a bridge between research and policy debates, and developing practical projects at a local, city and regional level.

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Social Science research on homelessness sparks Parliamentary debate

Published on 5 July 2018
  • Category: Nottingham Civic Exchange; School of Social Sciences

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