Exploring the role of informal urban community support in homeless women’s sense of dignity
The research aims to explore how women experiencing homelessness access informal support from within urban communities, as opposed to from homeless specific services and how this can affect their levels of dignity. Many homeless women receive community support in public spaces from people such as security guards, librarians and toilet attendants (Casey, Goudie & Reeve, 2008). Informal arrangements with them help women maintain a level of dignity, for example by providing a space to wash. Dignity is an under-investigated concept in relation to homelessness, yet it is crucial for understanding how we approach homelessness.
Community support can allow women to keep their independence away from homeless services and as a result remain connected to their pre-homeless identity. Research has shown that many perceive homeless services as unwelcoming, male-dominated places characterised by inflexible rules (Hoffman & Coffey, 2008). Avoidance of these services is one reason why many women experiencing homelessness exist less visibly in urban communities and little homelessness research to-date has told their stories. This PhD looks to address this gap.
Funded in collaboration with White Rose DTP.
Lindsey McCarthy (Main supervisor)
Kesia Reeve (2nd supervisor)