About homelessness

Homelessness is not just about losing a roof over your head, but it’s about losing your sense of belonging and identity, which shapes who you are and gives your life purpose. The trauma of going through homelessness is significant, and the causes are often complicated and deep rooted, which is why it takes a long time and specialist support before someone can start making changes in their life.

People who sleep rough have often experienced a lot of trauma in their lives and are one of the most socially excluded groups with no family or friends to turn to. Many suffer from mental health problems, which can be a cause of homelessness, or a consequence of sleeping out. Everyone needs somewhere to live, something to do and people around them to love. We try to help people find these things because life is for living.

The causes

Homelessness is normally caused by more than one factor. It is often a combination of changes to someone’s structural and personal circumstances.

Structural factors include:

  • Recession
  • Lack of housing provision
  • Few employment opportunities

Personal factors:

  • Relationship breakdown
  • Substance misuse or mental health issues
  • Lack of support networks

Watch our short graphic presentation to find out more

Who it affects

Street homelessness is more likely to affect men. Only 15% of the people we help are women. Men can be less likely to seek help and may have fewer support networks in place making them more vulnerable to homelessness. Women are more likely to go undetected and be classified as ‘hidden homeless’ which can include sofa surfing, or living in brothels.

The profile of who is homeless in Westminster is changing, and we are seeing an increase in migrants from across the world – including refugees fleeing persecution, but particularly economic migrants from Eastern Europe, who are looking for employment opportunities. Changes to welfare entitlements are making it harder for this group to afford accommodation, but our Training & Employment team is working with people who are able and ready for work.