November 2021: Homeless Link is sitting on the steering board for a major new research project into rural homelessness.
Rural homelessness has risen in recent years, driven by limited access to services and an absence of affordable homes. However, limited rural data is captured in official statistics. At the same time, interventions that are effective in reducing homelessness in urban areas are often less successful in rural communities.
To address this lack of evidence, a rural housing task force, chaired by the charity English Rural, has commissioned a 12-month research collaboration between academics at Kent and Southampton Universities. Homeless Link sits on the steering group for the task force which includes leading national, rural charities and housing providers. Working collaboratively, the group have pooled resources to develop and fund the research, designed to secure evidence showing the extent of the rural housing crisis and what interventions will help tackle the problem.
Chris Dutton is a Partnerships Manager at Homeless Link and will sit on the steering board for the project. He said:
“Despite rural homelessness being a growing issue, as of yet there’s been a distinct lack of research focused on it. This means that homeless organisations don’t fully understand the scale of the problem or the most effective policies to help people experiencing homelessness in rural areas access housing and support. Therefore, we are really pleased to sit on the steering board for this project which we hope will provide valuable insight for our members and the sector as a whole.”
Professor Helen Carr from the University of Southampton is heading up the research. She said:
“There is an acute lack of convincing evidence about rural homelessness. We’re delighted to have been selected to carry out this research and to investigate what it really means to be homeless in the countryside. So often rural areas are painted as idyllic retreats where people seek out a stress-free life. This perception is in danger of glossing over those who are at risk of becoming homeless or already have no roof over their head. Working with such a strong steering group of rural experts, we plan to put this right and provide the evidence needed to give this issue the attention it deserves.”