Who we work with
Homelessness is hugely damaging for individuals and for our society, but this doesn’t just mean living on the street – even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless. We work with people who have had a range of experiences, from rough sleeping and living in temporary accommodation to people who have an insecure housing situation such as temporarily staying with family and friends.
Some common experiences people might have had include mental health, drug and alcohol issues, migration difficulties or legal concerns. These may have been contributing factors to people becoming homeless or have come about as a result of homelessness.
We believe that stable accommodation and being part of a community is the foundation for people living fulfilled and meaningful lives. Our work is about empowering people to use their experience to support other individuals and wider society.
Homelessness is on the rise, and it takes the whole community to tackle this. It is essential we create opportunities for people who are homeless to utilise their experience and make a contribution – for the benefit of us all.
We support people who are experiencing homelessness to take control of their health. Groundswell believes that everyone has the right to good health which is an essential prerequisite to living a full life. Homelessness is a significant factor in health inequality in our society: homeless people’s health is extremely poor compared to the general population.
We support our clients to take control of healthcare needs. By putting health first people can begin to take control of their lives and move out of homelessness.
What does “peer” mean?
Peers are people who are equal to one another in terms of status, power, position, and may have similar background and experiences. We use the term “peer” in its broadest sense – people who have a shared experience of using homelessness services.
A peer approach seeks to overcome some of the traditional problems encountered between “clients” and “professionals”. Both clients and workers frequently characterise the dynamic between them as being one of “them and us”. Even the best workers and the most open-minded clients sometimes find it difficult to get round the fundamental power imbalance in these relationships. A peer approach often does not have the same underlying dynamic, which can allow for more honesty to flourish, enabling people to acknowledge the need for help, and accept support more readily.
One of Groundswell’s core beliefs is that there is no “them” and “us” – only us.
Groundswell believes that experience of homelessness can be an asset – and that through volunteering that asset can be used to support others who are experiencing homelessness and improve policy and services. Volunteering can also provide the structure and support that can help people move further away from homelessness and make a bigger contribution to our communities.
Our volunteers all have personal experience of homelessness and we support people to make changes in their lives.
Groundswell has a long history of working in partnership with national and local organisations to ensure people with experience of homelessness have influence on services. This might be through carrying out peer research together, supporting them to enable people who use their services to participate in decision making processes or to deliver services. We are building a network of partners who will delivery Homeless Health Peer Advocacy in their own area.