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‘I was all on my own’ (2015)

A survey of over 500 homeless services users across the UK reveals the disproportionate levels of loneliness they experience and how the impact of isolation can undermine their attempts to move on from homelessness.

Key findings

The findings from Crisis’ survey of 506 homeless service users across the UK sought to explore the nature and quality of the contact this group have and the scale of loneliness and isolation they experience.

  • Six out of 10 (61%/307) homeless service users classify as ‘lonely’, three times the proportion of over 52s in the UK, a group most associated with being most lonely in society. Over a third (37%/187) of service users reported ‘often’ feeling isolated and lacking companionship (35%/179) 
  • Christmas is a difficult time for homeless service users: over a quarter (27%/136) spent last Christmas alone with those aged 45-54 more likely to (37%/53). Spending Christmas with family was important for a lot of service users (63%/289) as was having somewhere warm and safe to stay (93%/467) yet a quarter (26%/130) did not know where they would spend this Christmas 
  • Homeless service users reported being at the receiving end of regular physical and verbal abuse making it harder to feel others cared or they had someone to reach out to: in an emergency only a quarter (23%/119) could call on a friend
  • Negative encounters made almost half of all service users (44%/217) feel as if they were undeserving of help. They were made to feel ashamed and stigmatised at being homeless and over a quarter (28%/143) said they often felt invisible to others as a result
  • These experiences entrenched loneliness making some withdraw further from others, reinforcing isolation and over half (53%/266) said it had made seeking support harder. For others the use of alcohol or drugs was a means of blocking out isolation
  • It also had a significant impact on service users ability to move on from homelessness with seven out of 10 saying that being homeless had made it harder to secure or maintain a job

More needs to be done to, not only, address the causes of homelessness but support those that are lonely and isolated: service users wanted more opportunities to be able to share their problems by talking to someone.

Reference

Sanders, B. & Brianna, B. (2015) ‘I was all on my own’: experiences of loneliness and isolation amongst homeless people. London: Crisis.

 

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‘I was all on my own’ (2015) (PDF)

A survey of over 500 homeless services users across the UK reveals the disproportionate levels of loneliness they experience and how the impact of isolation can undermine their attempts to move on from homelessness.