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At any given time homelessness is a reality for thousands of people across the UK. Being homeless can be devastating. It can shatter everything from health to job prospects. It is unsafe and people can easily find themselves in dangerous situations.

The reality of homelessness

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness. People who sleep on the streets often suffer from multiple health conditions, such as poor mental health and drug or alcohol misuse. They are also in greater danger of experiencing violence and abuse.

But not all people who are homeless live on the streets. Hidden homelessness describes people who are living in accommodation that is temporary and insecure. this includes hostels, squats, B&Bs and sofa surfing.

Being homeless is detrimental to all areas of life, from health to personal relationships.

For a better idea of what homelessness can be like, here are some real-life experiences of some of the people we have worked with.

What causes homelessness?

There is no single reason why someone can end up without a home. The most common reason people give for becoming homeless is relationship breakdown. However, there are often a range of factors at play.

  • Structural causes – This can include poverty, unemployment and lack of good quality, affordable housing.
  • Institutional causes – For example young people leaving care and people leaving prison are at high risk of becoming homeless.
  • Relationship causes – People sometimes have to leave their home because of an abusive relationship or family breakdown.
  • Personal causes – This can include poor mental health, learning difficulties or drug/alcohol misuse. These problems can make it difficult to manage a home, or could lead to other problems such as losing a job or relationship breakdown.

It is usually a combination of these causes that lead to someone losing their home. Being homeless can then make many of these problems even harder to resolve.

The causes of homelessness and rough sleeping - Public Health England

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