Skip to content

Why people sleep rough

There’s no one reason why someone ends up rough sleeping. Each individual situation is complex and can relate to both personal and environmental reasons.

Homeless Link says: “For some people, homelessness is not just a housing issue. It’s  something that is inextricably linked with complex and chaotic life experiences.”

The reasons why people sleep rough demands similarly complex solutions. Most of the time there’s no quick fix. Just providing a home does not always solve a person’s issues or long-term housing situation.

Instead, the solution involves a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s other needs and life skills. Also, we need to consider what support is needed to successfully maintain accommodation. This can range from intensive onsite help in supported accommodation to lighter touch tenancy sustainment support through floating support services.

Personal experiences

Many homeless people have experienced traumatic life experiences, which continue to negatively impact on their lives in harmful ways.

St Mungo’s says: “Many of the people we see have mental or physical health problems or have issues with drug or alcohol use. Sometimes people face a complex mix of these factors, on top of more difficult family backgrounds than most.”

The pathway into homelessness does not always start later in an individual’s life. Studies have found that experiences at different stages of a person’s life, such as childhood or teenage years, can result in them becoming homeless.

Read Public Health England's review 'Adults with complex needs (with a particular focus on street begging and street sleeping)’.

This study highlights that: “...early trauma/adverse childhood experiences result in an increased likelihood of being homeless in the future. 98 per cent of those who experienced such events also had experience of being homeless at some point in their adult life and or were currently homeless”.

Accessing services

Accessing support services can often be a struggle for those who rough sleep. A joint and integrated response from all services delivered in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area is essential for supporting people to make positive moves off the street.

Shelter, the homeless charity, says: “Tackling these problems is a complex business. Normally it requires support from public bodies, friends and family, combined with a lot of hard work from the individual or family in trouble. Public support might include intervention, advice, counselling, training or provision of alternative accommodation by a local authority where appropriate.”

Homeless Link says: “People with complex needs are at serious risk of falling through the cracks in service provision. There needs to be an integrated response across health, housing and social care.”

Find out more about the support we offer those who are homeless or rough sleeping.

Homeless charities

Read more about the homeless charities and our partner agency:

Read about St Mungo's outreach workers.

Read about our Make Change Count work to help the homeless.