Chamberlain: We won’t end homelessness with the same old ineffective solutions

In the Times Red Box yesterday, Wendy Chamberlain tackled the continuing issue of homelessness, especially in rural areas.

When asked to think about homelessness, it’s easy to conjure up a mental image of a man, sleeping in a doorway, somewhere in the centre of a big city. When the media reports on homelessness, that’s the stock photo.

But the reality can be very different…

People who experience homelessness are all genders; families as well as single people; spanning all backgrounds. And homelessness is a problem in rural communities as much as it is in large, urban areas.

Homelessness is not limited to visible rough sleeping.

Street homelessness is the most visible and the most extreme form of homelessness while many other forms of homelessness are hidden from sight: people “sofa surfing”; families living in temporary accommodation because they have nowhere else to go; people staying in hostels or night shelters…

Stereotyping of homelessness is a profound problem. It clouds public understanding of the nature and true scale of homelessness in the United Kingdom. And it acts as a barrier to directing attention and resources towards the most proven and effective ways of preventing homelessness in the first place.

This problem applies particularly to homelessness in rural areas…

My casework [in North East Fife] often deals with families at risk of homelessness who have been housed in “scatter flats” across the area. The quality of these flats used as temporary accommodation is of regular complaint to my office and concerns me deeply.

We know that poor-quality accommodation can worsen the health of people with underlying illnesses or conditions. The temporary nature of the accommodation prevents children from settling in school. The inability to put down roots can impact on mental health…

More must be done…

Ambition to do more must be matched by action. However, that action must be undertaken with a view towards change and doing things that are proven to work, and not by simply continuing with old methods that have not succeeded in ending homelessness for good in the past…

It is imperative that we learn from what was successful [during the pandemic] and make every effort to adapt those policies into long-term, achievable projects that will help bring an end to homelessness, once and for all.

And that includes how we think and talk about homelessness. I am convinced that to achieve a lasting end to homelessness we must fully understand and explain the problem…

We must shed the stereotyping and stigma too often associated with homelessness. We must face up to the fact that individuals who experience homelessness are people like us, with personal stories, hopes and dreams.

Too often they have been let down by services or systems that should have been there to support them and prevent such a personal tragedy. They deserve our respect.


* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary in print, on air or online.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Chris Moore
    @Paul: the Oxford result isn't a Green gain. A Green councillor resigned to cause the by-election. (S/he was first elected in 2022.) It's a three member ward...
  • David Raw
    Argyll & Bute had successive Liberal/Lib Dem MPs for twenty eight years as recently as between 1987 and 2015....
  • David Le Grice
    TBF that first Newham result actually is impressive since the greens have recently come ahead of us by default in urban areas and Newham isn't even one of those...
  • Paul Barker
    That Oxford result is a Green gain, from Labour....
  • Ruth Bright
    Just to elaborate...In the last few minutes of the morning session Swinson explains how she was pushing and pushing to see the Second Sight report. The enquiry ...