By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor
As anyone who has walked through town in an evening will know, homelessness is a big problem in Cardiff with as many as 100 people estimated to be sleeping in the city centre each night.
When lockdown was announced in March people retreated into their homes for safety, but this was not possible for those who are homeless. To keep them safe from COVID-19, many people were given emergency accommodation to allow safe self-isolation.
As we begin to move on from lockdown local authorities are making more permanent arrangements for those currently in hotels and emergency accommodation; they have partnered with Cardiff University for a study into the most effective ways to house the homeless.
The study will run over the next eighteen months through a partnership with Cardiff University and the Centre for Homelessness Impact, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The research has three main aims: to understand which types of accommodation have a better outcome; to understand barriers and facilitators in different accommodation models used across local authorities; to determine which accommodation provides the best value for money.
It is thought that this project will increase understanding of homelessness and the barriers that prevent people from getting back on their feet. The study has been titled ‘Moving On’ and is the first of its kind in the UK, as explained by lead researcher Dr Rebecca Cannings-John:
“This is an important study that will add to the research base, to help inform which housing options could provide the best outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.”
This sentiment was shared by Dr Ligia Teixeira, CEO of the Centre for Homelessness Impact, who said:
“As we stand on the precipice of a world fundamentally changed by coronavirus, we must take this opportunity to use evidence to improve outcomes for those most affected. It is our hope that in conducting this trial, we can give local authorities that are operating with limited resources, the tools they need to ensure that people are not returning to the streets.”
It has not been made clear yet how the study will run but it will follow a group of individuals over a period of 12 months to evaluate their progress with housing, health and wellbeing. This all-encompassing nature of the study is the first of its kind in the UK.
Principal Investigator, Dr Peter Mackie, explained that they believe this is the “first time homelessness has been treated as a crisis” and it is hoped through this funding they can “inform future policy and practice for the benefit of those affected by homelessness.”
As Del Clarke, someone who has been personally affected by homelessness, explained to the BBC:
“I had a regular life, the whole lot … you’re only one pay cheque away from being homeless.”
Anyone can become homeless and this study aims to give them the support they need and deserve.
Whilst homelessness is a large scale problem that does not have an easy solution, it is great to see research being funded to increase our understanding of the situation and to eventually increase support for those affected.
Science and Technology Holly Giles