Recurrent users of a reception centre : a study of institutional recidivism within a sub-group of the single homeless
This study is an analysis of the housing and life careers of a group of single homeless people who became users and re-users (recurrent users) of a Reception facility in Aberdeen. It is an attempt to answer three major sets of questions which arose in respect of such a phenomenon. Firstly, who are the users of the Reception Centre, in particular, the Recurrent users? How far do they share a common social and economic background? Is this background linked to their present circumstances? Secondly, what are they doing in between visits to the Reception Centre, if they return? Is there a circuit of housing and other situations lived in by such people? If so, of what does it comprise? Thirdly, why do certain people 'adopt' such a life-style? Are they voluntarily on the move or is their mobility and use of the Reception Centre forced upon them by domestic, economic, social, health or other reasons? The study originated out of a problem which developed in a new initiative being taken in Aberdeen to address the needs of the single homeless. An Integrated Housing System was developed comprising a range of housing, hostel and other provision for the single homeless. The pivot of the scheme, the Reception Centre, designed to assess and refer people elsewhere in the system, soon developed a recurrent user population. People were not being re-settled. Further, the Recurrent users were denying other potential residents the benefits of the new system by using up the limited bed-space at the Reception Centre. The recurrent user problem was located theoretically in the wider sociological concern with recidivism in respect of ex-prisoners, ex-psychiatric patients and ex-alcoholic hostel dwellers. A new model of recidivism was seen to be needed and subsequently developed.