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Title: Surviving on the streets : a qualitative study of resilience among Londons homeless adults
Author: Jeffrey, Sophie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 3419
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Published work on homelessness focuses on the problems and deficits of homeless people. Homelessness is associated with higher prevalence of mental and physical health problems, substance use and suicide. A small number of studies have looked at homeless people's strengths and resilience, predominantly with young people. The aim of this study was to investigate how a sample of homeless adults in London conceptualise the challenges of their situation, and whether they have a sense of resilience. Eight men were interviewed about their experiences of being homeless in London. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology was used to scrutinise the interview transcripts. Three themes were developed which focused on different aspects of their phenomenology of homelessness. 'Perceptions of purchase on the present situation' explores the interviewees' sense of grounding and agency in their homeless situation and conceptions of their future. 'Threat and care' highlights the common experience of being attacked, abused and persecuted by both the public and by some services. Some interviewees conceptualised homelessness as being uncared for, and therefore placed a high value on instances of support and care. The final theme explored how the interviewees were 'Negotiating group and individual identities': when society stigmatised and refused them membership, they explored investing in alternatives. Therefore, although homeless life involved severe challenges to their sense of agency; of fear, abuse, dehumanisation, segregation and stigmatisation, the men resiliently deployed coping strategies, engaged with sources of emotional support, and retained the power to define their own identities. Recommendations include practical suggestions for helping statutory services to engage with their clients in a way that upholds psychological wellbeing and safety; to assist homeless people in developing supportive social networks and positive identities; and to reduce segregation and stigmatisation of homeless people within services and communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available