Grassroots Ministry: People and Deep Social Change
Susan Browne rsm (GB Institute): 'Addressing Homelessness'

Homelessness has become a huge current social problem. In England each year approximately 200,000 single people experience homelessness. This statistic cannot have altered significantly since Catherine McAuley brought her Sisters of Mercy to London, Birmingham and Liverpool over a hundred and eighty years ago. “What an ineffable consolation,” she remarked, “to serve Christ himself in the person of the poor and to walk in the very same path He trod!”

People become homeless for many different reasons. There are social causes of homelessness, such as lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment, and life events. People can become homeless when they leave prison, care or the army with no home to go to. Many homeless women have escaped a violent relationship.  Not being able to afford the rent is another cause. Life events, such as relationship breakdown, losing a job, mental or physical health problems, or substance misuse can be the trigger. Being homeless can make many of these problems even harder to resolve.

Many of them have other support needs besides their need for housing, and as such require some type of tailored assistance. Most have experienced some form of trauma. Homeless people are presenting at hostels more and more, with complex needs. Mental health needs seem to have increased, which is generally attributed to difficulties in accessing mental health services and the barriers of dual diagnosis (a mental health problem plus substance dependency). Homelessness services in the UK continue to face the challenge of meeting increasing levels of demand with diminishing resources. People experiencing substance dependency and mental health problems continue to face significant barriers to accessing mental health support services...

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Spanish translation using DeepL Translator. Traducción al español con DeepL Translator

Susan Browne rsm is a member of Great Britain Institute.

'I live in South East London as part of the Formation Community. My background is in teaching and later in social work. Since retiring two years ago, I have been working with other Sisters of Mercy in a homeless project in Gravesend.'

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