A dedicated insurance fund should be set up to encourage and support companies to employ homeless people, according to a report published today by the think-tank Demos and the homelessness charity Crisis.
Include Me In: How life skills help homeless people back into work, argues that supporting homeless people to return to employment is a crucial part of escaping from social exclusion, but that businesses could be doing more to help. It also finds that homeless people need better support and advice which recognises their existing skills as well as their needs.
Margaret Hodge MP, Minister of State in the Department of Work and Pensions with responsibility for social exclusion, will launch the report on Thursday 23 June 2005.
“For thousands of people experiencing the most overwhelming sort of exclusion, jobs can be one part of a strategy for re-integrating with the mainstream,” says Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of Crisis. “For many homeless people, however, traditional vocational courses miss the mark by not taking account of the chaotic circumstances in which participants are trying to rebuild their lives.”
The report proposes the establishment of a dedicated fund, which would act as a guarantee scheme and reassure companies concerned about employing people who may be living in difficult circumstances. The fund would be endowed initially by several large donations and then ‘topped up’ by contributions from companies benefiting from its impact.
“Some businesses are leading the way in reintroducing homeless people to work”, says the report’s author, Hannah Lownsbrough of Demos. “In doing so, they are playing a vital role in helping individuals to take a permanent step away from social exclusion. The establishment of a dedicated insurance fund would support those businesses that currently employ homeless people and encourage others do so.”
The report also finds that many government programmes designed to get people back to work are inappropriate for homeless and other profoundly excluded adults.
“Government initiatives such as the New Deal have succeeded in brining many people back into work”, says Hannah Lownsbrough of Demos. “But they have focused on the ‘easy pickings’; the major investment in getting people back to work has largely benefited those closest to the labour market. Helping the most excluded adults back into employment will mean investing not only in technical and vocational skills, but also helping to tackle people’s perceptions of excluded adults.”
Include Me In builds on Crisis and Demos’ previous collaboration, Survival Skills. It examines the success of projects such as Crisis’ Skylight Café.
Notes to editors
- Include Me In: How life skills help homeless people back into work is published by Crisis and Demos on Thursday 23 June 2005. Copies are available for free download at www.demos.co.uk or www.crisis.org.uk Hard copies can be ordered from Central Books on 020 8986 5488 or online at www.centralbooks.co.uk
- The report will be launched by Margaret Hodge MP, Minister of State in the Department for Work and Pensions, on Thursday 23 June 2005 at 10 am at Crisis Skylight Centre, Commercial Street, London E1 6LT.
- Crisis is the national charity for solitary homeless people and works year-round across the UK helping people fulfill their potential and transform their lives. Crisis helps rebuild the lives of homeless people by helping those trapped in the cycle of homelessness and raising awareness of their plight. The charity estimates that there are around 380,000 hidden homeless people in Britain, living in hostels, temporary bed and breakfast accommodation, squats or sleeping on the floors of friends and family.
- Demos is the think-tank for everyday democracy. It has a long-standing interest in tackling social exclusion.
- Hannah Lownsbrough is a researcher at Demos. Her previous publications include Survival Skills: Using life skills to tackle social exclusion (2004).