How homelessness affects employment opportunities

Homelessness can be a barrier to gaining meaningful employment, but there are many charities and organisations working to help homeless people into work…

In this article you will learn:

  • The statistics behind homelessness
  • How homelessness affects employment opportunities
  • What charities, organisations and businesses are doing to help homeless people into employment

According to Shelter, the UK has a homeless population of over 300,000 people. However, the charity says that’s an underestimation as its statistic is based on the number of people ‘sleeping rough’ or in temporary housing. This means it does not take into account the ‘hidden homeless’ – people who have nowhere to live but are not recorded in official systems as needing housing assistance.

The lack of a stable home can make it very difficult to find and maintain employment. According to the 2015 report ‘Supporting homeless people into work’, just seven per cent of the people that charity St Mungo’s Broadway works with are in employment, while just two per cent of Crisis’ clients are in full time work and five per cent are in part time work.

There are, however, a number of organisations that are helping homeless people in the UK at every step on the journey into employment:

  • Change Please is empowering the homeless community by training them to be baristas – they also provide jobs paying London living Wage and support with housing, bank accounts and mental wellbeing
  • Beam is a crowdfunding campaign backed by various homeless charities to fund employment training for homeless people – users can sponsor homeless people and contribute towards training courses, they’ll then receive updates as they progress into employment
  • Timpson offers free dry cleaning for anyone who is unemployed and needs an outfit for an interview – all you need to do is go into the store and have a chat with one of their colleagues

However, homelessness doesn’t mean that employment is impossible – figures from Shelter this year found that 55 per cent of homeless families are actually working. Homelessness can make it difficult to hold down a stable job, though – which in turn reduces the likelihood of managing to secure housing.


Mary Smith, a 47-year-old mother of three from Watford, works full-time in a shoe shop but was made homeless after being evicted by her landlord. “I was brought up by a very proud Irish woman, and taught that you don’t discuss things like your finances – so letting my colleagues at work know what’s happening is very hard,” she says. “Luckily I have an understanding manager now, but I nearly lost my job when I first became homeless because the transport links from my hostel were so bad.

“I’m not hopeful for our future. I think it’s going to be this constant, vicious circle of moving from temporary place to temporary place, when all my family want is to settle down. We don’t want a palace, we just want a place that we can call home.”


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