Homelessness and Complex Needs

Complex needs are at the heart of everything we do here at The Connection.

They affect over 70% of people sleeping rough in London, including many of those we support.

That’s why we want to raise awareness around the impact of complex needs on people sleeping rough. By understanding the issues people are facing on the streets (or that caused them to begin sleeping rough) we can all do our bit to end rough sleeping for good.

What are complex needs?

There is no official definition for complex needs but we think of it as anything that affects a person’s behaviour, mental or physical state and/or position in society which makes accessing traditional support routes difficult.

These needs often present differently in people, making them hard to pin down. Our team uses their expertise to work with a person, get to know them and establish what their needs are, always putting their point of view first.

Many people also struggle with multiple complex needs which can impact on each other and make recovery difficult.

For example, someone may begin sleeping rough after illness leaves them unable to work and pay rent. This illness may cause intense pain but because a person is sleeping rough they may be unable to, embarrassed or confused about how to seek medical support.

Instead, they may start taking illegal substances as they are easier to access to the streets and can relieve pain quickly. Now this person would be dealing with homelessness, illness and addiction, all of which are causing each other in turn.

As you can imagine, this can get complicated and worsen quickly.

This is common in the people we support and many have struggled to find support services which can cater to all their needs effectively.

That’s why we take a trauma-informed, wraparound approach when supporting someone out of homelessness. This way, we can look at a person’s situation on an individual basis to address the root causes of their homelessness and figure out what’s preventing them from recovery beyond housing.

Types of complex needs

Poor mental and/or physical health, addiction and immigration status are all common support needs we see in our centre. When this is considered with a person’s experiences of homelessness, planning suitable support can become complex. These needs can vary greatly from person to person, change over time and interact with each other.

Below are a few examples but they do not affect everyone and won’t affect people equally.

Mental health


Migration status

We’re here to help

We understand the traumatic impact rough sleeping can have and we refuse to give up on people.

We also recognise that people with complex needs may need additional support for their unique circumstances and offer a range of specialist services. We’re flexible in our support and will always go the extra mile to meet someone’s needs, even if it means trying something out of the box.

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