Managing Norbiton’s Needy and Homeless 2020

Dr Mike D’Souza Chair of One  Norbiton & Jill Preston Chair of CREst

In 2018 we published our first report on Norbiton’s Homeless. What follows is a brief update analysis of all attendees at CREst’s Tuesday Luncheon club and our own future proposals.

Summary

This is a survey of 154 Tuesday Club attenders. It confirms that Norbiton’s needy and homeless people have multiple psychosocial problems. Attenders are mostly young male adults. Over 30% report having had severe trauma during their upbringing and ongoing stress  since, leading to chronic mental, physical  and social ill-heath.

  • 57% report recent homelessness,
  • 31% Abuse, 30% Depression, 
  • 29% PTSD, 
  • 25% anxiety, 
  • 14% Psychosis and 
  • 14%  personality disorder and arrested maturity.

                High proportions suffer from addictions:  

  • Cocaine 37%, 
  • Opiates 42% and 
  • Alcohol 53%. 
  • Measurement of their Quality of life using Thymometrynot unexpectedly, showed it to bedramatically lower than that reported by the rest of RBK’s general population. See graph above.

Despite their behaviour attracting little public sympathy, they clearly merit being prioritised for help. Because their current cost to the public purse is so high, providing better services could prove to be a very  cost-effective investment, and we should begin by improving services to our vulnerable pre-schoolers. Because of the Covid crisis, they are at last being provided with reliable shelter and adequate food. Our hope is that this survey will be of some help to RBK in developing joint plans with other agencies to secure a better future for them in the long term. 

Results

Since 2017 over 550 individuals, both clients and helpers,  have now attended CREst’s Tuesday Lunch Clubs. 154 of these have agreed to fill in analysis forms often on more than one occasion for a small “incentive” fee (£2) provided by private research funds.

Demographics

80% (123) were Male.  66% were aged between 25 and 65yrs. Sadly 2% died young during the study. 

Housing & Other Problems

57% (88) reported having been Homeless at some time during the period of Analysis

46% were not homeless but gave us a KT post code Only 2 were from out of borough (TW)

5% reported being illiterate or having language difficulties. 11% were Eastern European. 

Self-Reported Health  Problems

  • 31% Childhood abuse 11% Sexual abuse 29% PTSD 30% Depression 14% Psychosis
  • 14% Personality Disorder
  • 23% were on treatment for Addiction 
  • 41% were smokers 12% Gamblers  18% were soft drug addicts
  • 37% were Cocaine addicts 42% were Opiate addicts 53% were alcoholics. 
  • Individuals, on average were spending £50 per day. The total daily spend for the group as a whole was in excess of £6000– the highest spend being on Cocaine & Opiates. 
  • 25% felt chaotic & in fear of dying. Only 8% admitted to living off crime and 2% to being dealers
  • Most attendees had multiple long-standing complex Social/Medical problems

Testing the value of promoting more Community Care and Self-help

We developed a score to measure how much people were helping themselves and others.  Using this has been found to  reduce addiction in the past see CareCreds

A subset  of 40 attenders agreed to try earning CareCreds. After 6 months, 61% recorded better quality of life,  81% were healthier and 57% were spending less on addiction (on average £24 less per day). Perhaps such incentive schemes could be refined further. Incentives as little as £2 seem to work.

Current Activity and its Costs            

Throughout the Covid Crisis, Jill and her volunteer team have continued to run the Tuesday Club and added two extra days. She also has been issuing £50 worth of Food bank bags to attendees. The demand is increasing by 5 new households a week and it has been difficult to keep pace with costs and to cope with the stress on volunteers. Indeed without charitable donations the total costs since the start of the crisis would have approached a quarter of a million pounds.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most of our clients have experienced severe stress in early life resulting in mental ill-health and loss of resilience. Others are victims of the common epigenetic tendency to develop addictions. Many have lost self-respect and have become their own worst enemies, adding to their past stress damage. We believe they must continue to be offered secure, housing as in Ohio that remains available even when unused. Also they must get more personal and community support and incentives to change. Doing this will be not only be humane but should also prove to be the most cost-effective way for us to help.  

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. PREVENTING THESE PROBLEMS: Providing warm, tolerant and personal home care for vulnerable young families e.g. Boosting the existing Sure Start Maternity Grant. Evidence suggests that any measures that  reduce childhood stress will be beneficial.
  • CURING THESE PROBLEMS: Any effective cure for addiction would be a major help. However because addiction seems to be an epigenetic problem we’ll have to wait some time before any cures are developed and meanwhile focus on social approaches. 
  • CARING FOR THOSE NOW CHRONICALLY DISADVANTAGED: Most of our attendees are quite good at caring for each other. However experience with our CareCreds scheme strongly suggests that even badly disadvantaged people can benefit by being incentivised to do more to help themselves and others. So it may be worth persisting with this or other incentivisation schemes.
  • PROVISION OF SERVICES: CREst’s luncheons are already meeting an important need and their expansion during the COVID crisis has been welcomed. However to continue they must be adequately resourced. At the moment there is insufficient finance and too few volunteers. Reasonable costing needs to be done. 
  • PROVISION OF FACILITIES: Our lunches are being served in Piper Hall which will shortly be demolished. Alternative accommodation must be established soon. Madingley  Community Pantry was set up and run by our volunteers to help meet the above needs.  It is currently being used to store our food donations.  These are being requested not only by the homeless, and local needy families but also by Refugees from Refugee Action. We must consider whether Pantry provision will be required on the newly Regenerated estate. 
  • In future, proper collaboration between all Agencies must be organised.