“The Face of Homelessness” Report from Doorway’s Guest Survey 2010

In November and December 2010 Doorway conducted a survey of guests, with the aim of producing a guest profile and statistics for funding purposes. The format was based on our 2008 survey but expanded to include questions on Housing Options and Homes for Wiltshire and provide information on guests’ prison sentences, literacy and voting rights. The response to the survey was very positive as we had 42 respondents and only 1 refusal.

The survey gave us broad information on issues faced by our guests, for example, 50% have been to prison, 63% suffer from mental health problems and there is a high level of substance misuse. More pertinent however are the results about specific problems and the connections between many of these issues. I have written a  report on the findings of the survey called The Face of Homelessness which suggests that the state and society are failing to deal with the interconnected issues faced by the ‘homeless’. The report focuses in detail on substance misuse, mental health, prison time, employment, and education and tries to show that ‘homelessness’ is very often used as a broad term to describe housing status, but in reality describes the chaotic lifestyle that is a sum of many inextricably linked issues.

Although the survey was a simple piece of research from a specific sample of people it provides us with an insight into the issues dealt with by our guests, and how very often their complex needs are not met. This first piece of research by Doorway provides a broad view of the interconnected issues faced by our guests, and will hopefully in time be followed up by some more detailed research into specific problems. The conclusion of the report suggests that currently our guests experience multi-deprivation and that their needs are not met in society. Furthermore, it states that with our current government and the introduction of spending cuts it is highly unlikely that their needs will be met in the near future.

Report by Helen Taylor, Assistant Support Worker, Doorway

 ‘The Face of Homelessness’ Report on findings from the guest survey completed in December 2010 is available separately here

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About Lisa @ doorway

Lisa Lewis, Chief Executive of Doorway.
This entry was posted in Alcohol, Chippenham, Drugs, Homelessness, Mental Health, News, Wiltshire and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “The Face of Homelessness” Report from Doorway’s Guest Survey 2010

  1. calneeagle says:

    Thanks to Helen for performing and writing up this survey. The interconnectivity of these issues seems obvious to many if not most people working in this field, but it’s so important to have real figures to work with.

    In the full document, it says: ‘Our survey shows high levels of addiction…….’ May I ask how ‘addiction’ was defined in the survey? ‘Addiction’ is a narrower definition than ‘alcohol / drug / substance x problem or misuse or abuse’. Mostly, nowadays, the term ‘dependence syndrome’ is used by psychiatrists where ‘addiction’ would previously have been used, and the ‘dependence syndrome’ diagnosis is likely to require both physiological and psychological dependence.

    The World Heath Organisation-endorsed ICD-10 codes include a definition for ‘dependence syndrome’ (note – links open in the same window without the option – sorry)

    Looking at the figures on those who had sought treatment re alcohol; ‘85% of those with a one-time addiction to alcohol had sought treatment … whereas…illegal or prescribed drugs…94% had sought treatment’ . That’s 23 out of 27 guests re alcohol and 18 out of 19 guests re drugs. As Helen so rightly points out, these are small numbers on which to try to base discussions re cultural differences regarding alcohol and drugs. I certainly recognise that people may acknowledge that their alcohol use is a ‘problem’ without equating that with ‘drug addiction’, because of cultural norms. However, the report is saying that the 27 guests had, by their answers, acknowledged that they ‘were or had been addicted to alcohol’. It does strike me that it might make a difference if guests had actively sought treatment or just ‘had’ treatment – as the ones with ‘illegal drug’ issues are more likely to have had (relatively) robustly enforced court-imposed treatment orders.

    I would also be interested to know the figures for those who had reported previous or present ‘addiction’ to alcohol and illegal or prescribed drugs (and for those who had reported ‘neither’).

    It is stated that ‘of those without GCSEs 68% had experienced addiction to alcohol or drugs’ – it would be useful to compare the equivalent figure for those with GCSEs.

    Regarding the discussion of the ‘chicken/egg’ situation of substance misuse and homelessness; I note that some guests ‘commented that they could understand the use of drink and drugs as a coping mechanism to life on the streets but that their own problems had arisen due to already existing problematic substance misuse’. This is very much my feeling regarding the issue – that in ‘street substance users’ there was usually a pre-existing problem that has been markedly worsened by ‘life on the streets’ – and I think from recent discussion that Jeremy Swain of Thames Reach feels much the same. Apparently they have some research figures in the pipeline relevant to this, which I await with interest.

    In the section re education the report says that ‘of those without GCSEs, 59% had suffered mental health problems’. Earlier in the report, it says that 63% of the total number of respondents had suffered or were suffering mental health problems. The report also says that ‘of those without GCSEs, 82% had been homeless and 50% had been to prison. Once again the interconnectivity between issues is apparent’. Earlier in the report, it says 50% of the total number of guests had been to prison, but I can’t find the figure for the total number of guests who had been homeless. I don’t see that the GCSE / non-GCSE link with mental health issues and prison time has been shown here.

    My gut feeling is that there IS a huge amount of interconnectivity of issues here, particularly with regard to literacy (often noted in separate discussions of prisons) – but that a wider study with greater numbers needs to be done.

    Thanks again for the valuable work and figures. I would also love to see the original raw data if possible.

    (Edited by calneeagle Jun 24, 2011 @ 12:53)

  2. Pingback: Chief Executive Lisa Lewis’s Report to the Doorway AGM | doorway's community voice

  3. Pingback: Chief Executive Lisa Lewis’s Report to the Doorway AGM |

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