A really useful new report on Roma homelessness has just been published. Heriot-Watt University’s Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research Unit (I-SPHERE) have released this as part of their work on Homelessness and Black and Minoritised Ethnic Communities in the UK, funded by the Oak Foundation.
The programme is overseen by an expert research advisory group and includes rich qualitative evidence and deep dive into key groups, issues and experiences. The first report was published in November 2022 and the second report has now been published here, exploring the phenomenon of Roma Homelessness in the UK.
Generally, there is a lack of research specific to homelessness and the Roma community. The limited research that does exist, shows there are unique challenges, factors and services designed to address these needs.
The following research questions are discussed in the report:
- What prompts Romanian Roma people to move to the UK, and what expectations do they have with regard to setting up "home" here?
- What forms of homelessness are experienced by the Romanian Roma community in the UK
- What are the factors that might increase or decrease the risk of Roma individuals/families of becoming homeless in the UK, and what has been the impact of Brexit and COVID on these risks?
Overall, the study confirms previous research findings that vulnerable Roma people in the UK face poverty, segregation and lack of decent housing in their home country. They typically move to the UK in the hope of improving their economic situation and providing better educational and economic prospects for their families. After migrating, they face a multitude of challenges such as linguistic, cultural and institutional barriers coupled with a lack of social and support networks. This further exposes them to labour market exploitation and poor treatment from landlords.
The report suggests a need for better dialogue and understanding between the Roma community and public services that could assist them to navigate challenges faced. It would be valuable for dedicated training on raising awareness about the history, culture and other social norms of the community in areas with substantial Roma populations to help support effective service interactions and build trust and mutual understanding.
A key theme found in the findings was that housing and homelessness services are not adequately equipped to meet the needs of Roma people, specifically the challenges presented by language barriers and lack of appropriately sized accommodation for larger families.
The research unit are continuing with further quantitative analysis with new datasets and working on ‘deep dive’ research topics. The first is with the Runnymede Trust on an in-depth analysis of what homelessness means for different ethnic groups, these results will be published in Autumn.
At Homeless Link, we thrive to be truly equitable, diverse and inclusive which can be seen through our EDI strategy. This insightful research is imperative to the work that we are doing, and we encourage our members and the sector to take the time to read it and share with your networks. By raising awareness and educating ourselves on the challenges faced by marginalised groups, we can all widen our understanding of race and ethnicity and homelessness and learn how to lessen the inequalities faced together.