Rough sleepers and PIEs

On the face of it, a rough sleepers' situation would not be thought of as a psychologically informed environment. How then do rough sleeper outreach initiatives and PIEs go together?

On the one hand, many outreach services aim to engage people, with a view to encouraging them off the streets, to the immediate relative safety of a hostel. Direct access hostels ( for American readers, "shelters") and day services then need to be psychologically informed, to deal with the clients' issues.  Some services need to be more psychologically informed, to prevent people slipping through the nets and becoming rough sleepers in the first place. “Move on” or “recovery” housing services also need to be psychologically informed, if they are to engage and hold on to former rough sleepers who may be likely to go back to the streets.

So these are all environments, in the sense we usually use the term, that can be more psychologically informed..

But is that all?

Another rather different way to think of this is that, from the point of view of the individual rough sleeper, the environment they have opted for may meet their needs, at least as as they see them, if only to some degree (and for want of better - or hope of better?)   So could we say that this is, for them, psychologically informed, in terms of their understanding of themselves, their attitudes to others, to officials etc; and that we need to understand that psychology a lot better, if we are to engage them in any other course?

 

But another way still is to say that an environment is not just a building. It's primarily a social, or psycho-social environment, a service, a pathway, that the building supports. When people are in transit from one situation or service to another, it's also the pathways between them that need to be psychologically informed, with issues such as attachment theory, and the cycle of change (See for example the paper by Johnson and Teixeria, in the Library section) .

When we talk of planning and delivering – and, crucially, of commissioning for – holistic services and pathways, that's what also needs to be psychologically informed – the links and pathways between services, as much as the individual environment at in each stage. For some new approaches here, see the System change and system brokerage section.

 

In our view, the approach that best captures the essence of the skills of engagement, as they apply especially in outreach work, is the pretreatment approach, as articulated by Jay Levy; and so we have a whole section on this site devoted to exploring this framework.

The work of the Street Buddies team in Westminster captures vividly the delicacy of outreach work with those most alienated from conventional services.  See Louise Simonsen's introduction to the Street Buddy team's work; and Stuart's account of a day as a Street Buddy, in Stuart's story.

For more on outreach work with the street community, the work of the REACH team in Massachusetts, as described by Brendan Plante on outreach and community, captures the strength of community - which we overlook at our peril.

The video interview with Kiela Crabtree, working with the Ground Cover street newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, also illustrates the concern of some of their readers and writers over the loss of community, when rehoused

The writings of Johannes Lenhard, an anthropologist working in London and Paris, also give an insight into the complexity or relationships within the street community (coming next).

 

 

 

Further reading

 Introduction to the Street Buddy teaminterview with Louise Simonsen

Stuart's story, is Stuart's account of a day as a Street Buddy

 On outreach and community, interview with Brendan Plante 

"Losing community strength" in discussion Kiela Crabtree, coming soon

In our view, the approach that best captures the essence of the skills of engagement, as they apply especially in outreach work, is the pretreatment approach, as articulated by Jay Levy; and so we have a whole section on this site devoted to exploring this framework.

The writings of Johannes Lenhard, an anthropologist working in London and Paris, also give an insight into the complexity or relationships within the street community (coming next).

 

 

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