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Between May and June 2022, Homeless Link carried out a workforce survey with its 900 members, receiving over 1300 responses from across England from a combination of managers and frontline staff.

A large majority of the questions were focussed on recruitment and retention in the homelessness sector. Low pay, the COVID-19 pandemic, high workloads, and the inability to provide permanent contracts due to short-term funding were all cited as reasons for difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff. With roles remaining unfilled for long periods of time, 69% of respondents agreed that these challenges have led to high caseloads and those in position being overworked.

“The impact of all of this is stress for those that are here and risk of burnout”.

“I’m looking to leave the sector due to mental health and personal relationships being affected by high workloads”.

Many respondents spoke of difficulties relating to long days, working unsociable hours, and having to take work home. In addition, respondents noted that having high caseloads led to not being able to take a break, higher stress and longer days.

With 89% of respondents saying they chose a career in homelessness because they ‘desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others’, it is clear that a decision to work in the sector is often driven by personal values. But this also means individuals are more likely to push their boundaries and invest more of themselves in their work, at the expense of their own wellbeing.

It is evident from the results of the workforce survey that staff burnout is incredibly common in the homelessness sector. In response to this, we have created a podcast series, discussing the effects of working in the sector on individual wellbeing. We feature topics like burnout, managing stress, the effects of vicarious trauma, and the importance of debriefing and reflective practice. Each episode involves an expert guest speaker who provides practical tips for improving wellbeing within the context of the realities of working in the sector.

Make sure that you, your colleagues, and your teams access this valuable advice. Our aim is that 2023 is a healthier and happier time for everyone working in homelessness.

This series of the ‘Going Beyond’ podcast will be coming out in January 2023.

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