Understanding Homelessness and How it Affects Employment

Written by RAC Editor
Last updated September 27, 2021

There are vast amounts of prejudice and stereotyping towards homeless people in the UK. Many people hold an incorrect and simplified understanding of homelessness and how it affects people’s lives. Here at Refreshing a Career, we know that one of the reasons somebody may be trying to get into the world of work after a long break is because of homelessness.  

Contrary to what many people believe, research shows that 88% of homeless people have previously had a job, suggesting that most homeless people want to work but face extreme barriers. This article will break down some of the misconceptions about homelessness and explore how it affects employment.  

What does it mean to be homeless?  

One of the biggest stereotypes about homelessness which many people still incorrectly believe today, is that all homeless people sleep on the streets and beg for money. We believe we understand homelessness because we are familiar with one version of it, but this doesn’t represent the experience of homelessness that thousands of people across the UK experience.  

Homelessness affects hundreds of thousands of adults and families every day across the UK, and many of these people can’t work due to the circumstances of their homelessness. Here is a breakdown of the different types of homelessness and how they affect employment:  

Rough sleeping  

Rough sleeping includes sleeping on the streets, in sheds and gardens and outdoor public spaces and is the version of homelessness that many people imagine when they think of a person without a home. Somebody who is rough sleeping faces a considerable number of barriers to accessing work, including not having an address, lack of hygiene facilities and poor nutrition.  

Temporary accommodation  

Living in temporary accommodation is a form of homelessness. This includes living in hostels, hotels, shelters and BnB’s. People who live in these types of accommodation have no certainty of residence and minimal legal rights and are classed as homeless. In addition, this type of accommodation makes it very difficult to find work as you may not commit to particular shift patterns, knowing you may need to find somewhere to sleep that night.  

Sofa surfing and staying with family and friends  

Many people are surprised when they hear that sleeping on friends and family’s sofa’s and jumping from place to place is a form of homelessness. If you don’t know how long you will be able to stay somewhere, it is impossible to commit to a job. You may also be staying somewhere illegally and therefore can’t use the address for employment contacts.  

At risk of homelessness 

We use the phrase ‘affected by homelessness’ because not everybody who faces problems due to homelessness is necessarily homeless at all times. If you are in temporary accommodation or living in an unsafe environment, you may be classed as at risk of homelessness. Being at risk of homelessness is also a very challenging position to try and find a job in as there is a risk of losing your structure and stability at any moment.  

If you feel affected by any of the circumstances discussed in this article, there is help available to you; visit Crisis and Shelter to find out more.

Last Updated: Tuesday October 5 2021
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