Andy Burford, Criminal Justice Lead at the Oxfordshire Roads to Recovery service, writes about the challenges of supporting people coming out of prison with nowhere to live.
If we’re going to talk about housing, let’s start with a pyramid.
Many of my colleagues who work within Substance Misuse will be familiar with Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. The humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper ‘A theory of human motivation’. It suggests that people are motivated to fulfil basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced fulfilment in their lives, and if you do an internet search on the subject you’ll find endless variations on the theme, nearly all of them in a pyramid shape.
No prizes for guessing that right at the base, you’ll get basic physical requirements, including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. Being homeless is a torment in itself. If you leave prison with a long-standing drink or drug problem and move straight into NFA (i.e. ‘no fixed abode’) status, the task of staying clean and sober is a monumental one.
So how can we look to reduce the problem of homelessness for those clients who are perpetually sofa surfing or moving patch each night to keep safe?
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This content first appeared in the Turning Point blog