Homelessness isn’t just what we see on the street—it takes many forms and affects many different people

People find themselves homeless for any number of reasons: they’ve lost their job, their health is deteriorating or they are fleeing domestic violence. Women, children and single young people are often part of the “hidden homeless”: people living in friends’ homes or temporary accommodations.

It is difficult to quantify how many people are homeless across the UK. Homelessness is recorded differently in each nation and many homeless people do not show up in official statistics at all.

Support for homeless people is limited, and there are strict criteria that must be met to gain homelessness assistance from the local authority. The housing provided to households who meet these criteria, mainly families with children, may initially be temporary.

Those who don’t have dependent children (known as “single homeless”) or are not deemed to be at significant risk, are unlikely to be entitled to housing and count amongst the thousands of “hidden homeless” people.

Fast facts

  • Figures show that over 320,000 people are now sleeping rough in Britain.
  • The charity Crisis has estimated that there are currently 3.74 million homeless adults “concealed” within households in England.

  • Almost 6 in 10 homeless people have been verbally abused or harassed whilst homeless.

  • 51 per cent of young homeless people have been excluded from school.

Homelessness and employment

It’s a common misconception that homeless people simply don’t want to work. The charity Shelter has estimated that over 170,000 people living in London are homeless. Nearly half of these people (47%) are thought to be in work and living in temporary accommodation.

Unfortunately, many have had a difficult experience of formal education, and mainstream adult learning fails to meet their needs. As a result they lose essential self-confidence and lack many of the skills needed to enter the workplace. 60 per cent of homeless people have few or no qualifications, meaning over 80 per cent of job vacancies are out of reach.

Living in shelters or temporary housing adds an extra barrier to employment. Beyond the stigma of homelessness, applying for a job without a fixed address, rental history, reliable phone number or access to childcare adds an extra hurdle to an already difficult process.

Raise awareness of the issue and support homeless people to get back on their feet with WE Won’t Rest.

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