Standing in the shadows: Faith, homelessness and troubled lives

Gibbs, Raelton (2013) Standing in the shadows: Faith, homelessness and troubled lives. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Full text available

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Abstract/Book Review

This research studies five homeless people’s experience focusing on two key research questions - what is the place of faith and a faith based organisation in the lives and minds of people using the service and what does an in depth analysis of the emotional biographies of a gr oup of homeless people tell us about the psychic, material and spiritual needs that they bring to the centre? Each person interviewed was of no faith or a different faith to the host organisation. Using Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method and Grounded Theory the research generated in depth insights into the life experiences of some of the most vulnerable in our society, giving them a voice. Based on a single narrative seeking question, the interviews disclose long histories of personal and social suffering, and a connection between those histories and peoples’ pathways into homelessness, both external and internal. There are traumatised people for whom literal homelessness is not the outcome, but the path into homelessness for all the research subjects suggests a typical picture of people balanced on a knife-edge between a number of sets of pairings including meaning and meaningless, hope and despair and life and death. To aid u nderstanding I think of these subjects as distributed along a spectrum, with some occupying positions closer to hopelessness, despair or suicide, and some in more hopeful or connected states. All of this is both what brings people to the host organisation, and what they bring into that organisation. The research findings enable better understanding of key issues affecting homeless people not only for faith-based organisations but for all that work with social exclusion and homelessness. Noting the occurrence of similar emerging issues over each of the case studies what begins to emerge are a number of implications for practice. These include the importance of developing meaningful relationships; the need to meet service users higher needs particularly spirituality from the point of admission, the importance of a full knowledge of the housed history, the importance of giving the opportunity to explore important life issues and to be listened to. A possible implication of the research undertaken relates to the organisation itself . The way the organisation does or does not respond , introducing the notion that it operates defences against anxiety and pain drawing on its own theological dogma, an ideology that functions as a defence against being over whelmed. The organisation’s position within the homelessness field is also consider ed. Finally there are the defences towards the inner projections of the residents. It is how the organisation responds to these elements that the research suggests assists or hinders the progress of the homeless person’s route out of homelessness.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Social Work awarded by the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Uncontrolled Keywords: Salvation Army, Christianity, Religion, Charity
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Depositing User: Ms Linda Dolben
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2015 12:58
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2017 15:44
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/1057

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