Homelessness Charity Calls For Better Access To Counselling

Funding campaign for counselling service in Merton and Wandsworth

Homelessness charity Evolve Housing + Support is calling for more counselling to be available for London’s homeless as a new report highlights the role it plays in helping homeless people rebuild their lives.

Launched today (June 18), the report ‘Breaking the Cycle of Trauma’, shows a strong link between trauma experienced in childhood and being on the streets, mental health and the cycle of homelessness, making a powerful case for counselling to help people overcome their traumatic experiences and begin to move forward.

Research carried out for the report amongst people using Evolve, which has services in Merton and Wandsworth, shows that:  

  • 80% of respondents reported experiencing at least one trauma while under 18 years old, over half (53%) reported suffering three or more.
  • More than a quarter (29%) of respondents reported their experiences of childhood trauma to be the primary cause of their homelessness.
  • Half (54%) of respondents suffered emotional abuse, physical abuse (44%) and witnessed violence within the home (46%) when they were under the age of 18.
  • 81% of respondents reported experiencing at least one trauma since becoming homeless, and over half (55%) reported three or more.
  • 87% of customers reported a primary mental health concern or diagnosis including depression (61%), anxiety (42%) and personality disorder (18%).

Evolve currently offers counselling in Merton and Wandsworth as well as Bromley, Croydon, Kensingston & Chelsea and Kingston, but funding for these services is coming to an end in September. The charity is launching a campaign to raise £110,000 to continue its services for two years and help more homeless people rebuild their lives. 

Debra Ives from EvolveDebra Ives, Director of Operations at Evolve Housing + Support, said: “Our research shows just how closely experiences of trauma, especially in childhood, are linked to a higher risk of poor mental health and homelessness later in life. We must remember that homelessness itself is traumatic and that problems get worse and more complex the longer people go without help.

“Counselling is one of the best tools for dealing with trauma but it must be available quickly to have an impact. Our counselling is free, on site and available irrelevant of where the customer moves to. At a time when local authority budgets are so stretched and NHS waiting times so long, we are going to miss opportunities to help people if we’re not able to provide services ourselves. That’s why we’re now appealing to the public to help us break the cycle of homelessness and turn people’s lives around.”

Andrew, aged 47, had a successful career in the city but lost his job and following a period of depression his life gradually fell apart. He ended up in emergency housing, which is where Evolve came in.

Andrew said: “I got a room in one of Evolve’s services. It meant I could start getting the help I needed. I had 12 sessions with one of Evolve’s therapists and started to make real progress. Mental health issues are often based on trauma and understanding the causes is the only way to move forward.

“Without therapy you’re just not going to get better. It’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break and without help I would still be in the same situation. Counselling is the best thing that has happened to me in the last five years. It helped me get my life back on track. In fact, I’m now looking to get back into employment.” 

For more information on Evolve’s services and to donate visit www.evolvehousing.org.uk.

June 18, 2018