On my own two feet: why do some people return to rough sleeping after time off the streets?

The Gathering 2018

Year of publication
Mungo Foundation

This report describes the findings from a small-scale, peer led exploratory, qualitative research project that considered the question ‘why do some people return to sleeping rough after time off the streets?’

The research team – many of whom had experienced homelessness and rough sleeping themselves – uncovered a range of interacting factors that stop people moving on from rough sleeping.and considers how holes in a person’s “safety net” put them at greater risk of returning to the streets. The research team categorised their findings into the following four areas:

• Push Factors, including: eviction; leaving because accommodation was unsuitable, unsanitary or unsafe; and fleeing violence or abuse
• Pull Factors, including: a sense of belonging and community on the street compared to boredom and isolation when living alone
• Holes in the safety net, including: a lack of informal support options such as friends and family to stay with; trauma and unmet health needs which make it hard to cope with living independently; and barriers to accessing new accommodation such as not having money for a deposit.
• Access to help and support, including: barriers to accessing practical and personal support; prior experience of being turned away or being treated negatively; and difficulty in gaining access to services.

The report also discusses methodology, including the benefits of peer researchers: peer research can create a level of trust between the participant and the researcher, meaning the participant feels that the researcher can relate to them in some way and so they feel relaxed and are willing to open up about their experiences. In turn, the data that is collected is of good quality. Peer researchers can also be role models for participants; influencing their lives and prompting them to think about how their experience can be used to make a positive contribution.

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