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Dr Caral Stevenson, Professor Jo Neale Oxford Brookes University

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Caral Stevenson, Professor Jo Neale Oxford Brookes University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Caral Stevenson, Professor Jo Neale Oxford Brookes University


3 Environments matter Perceptions of homeless peoples use of technology Dispel some myths What current research is saying Social networks, computers & the internet in hostels Our research project




7 Common misconception: Homeless are not technologically aware Have no interest in technology If they were interested they would have nowhere to access it Recent research says otherwise…

8 96% of homeless young people in L.A. frequently use the internet (Young & Rice, 2011) Street homeless people in Philadelphia – half reported computer use in past 30 days (Eyrich-Garg, 2011) Maintain social connectedness, conduct personal business and for leisure (Eyrich-Garg, 2011) Social networking, chat facilities, dating websites, email, search for employment, weather, housing, health conditions, maps, recovery meetings, CVs (Eyrich-Garg, 2011) Research found those with more severe drug use histories – less likely to have used computers (Eyrich-Garg, 2011)

9 Breaking Free Online is an Internet- based treatment & recovery programme Can enable people to resolve the psychological & lifestyle issues that are driving their dependence on alcohol & drugs Employs a wide range of multimedia formats Contains a structured assessment & wide range of evidence-based psychosocial interventions Can be used as computer-assisted therapy, enabling practitioners, volunteers or peer mentors to deliver structured interventions

10 30 drug users Heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine powder, cannabis, Methadone, Subutex, benzodiazepines and alcohol 15 Mentors (St. Mungos staff members) 15 St. Mungos hostels across London & a smaller city 25 male, 5 female 23-62 years, average 43 years Ethnically diverse Range of experience with technology

11 28/30 had computer & Internet access provided by the hostel 26/30 had a mobile phone, several of these were Internet enabled, some previously had Internet enabled phones 9/30 had flat screen TVs, 7 had laptops, some had DVD players & 1 had an e-reader, also some had a games console. Used internet for: Email, jobs, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter & MySpace, music, film, maps, Google, Wikipedia 12/30 used Facebook, one was about to sign up, one used Google plus, one used Twitter & MySpace 7/30 watched pornography online 7/30 had not used computers previously 30/30 showed interest in technology

12 Finding old friends: When I was a kid I used to come to England like every summer for a couple of months, in a sort of international school, … it was really fun when Facebook came out you know, I decided to type in all these names and you know … they were just all there on Facebook, so thats really good. (P9 Age 25) Keeping in touch: Yes pretty handy really, better than writing a letter and waiting for another one coming down you know, so yeah its good for keeping in touch with people you know. (P12 Age 40) Desire to become involved with social networks: Yes I would like to, I need to get in touch with a few old people, you know? Because it has become so common it would be a good way to see them, to get in touch with them. (P7 Age 32)

13 Generally use of computers was for the internet Some however did use word processing programmes for writing their life story, writing poetry, keeping a journal, college work & writing a blog You know, I am lucky I have got one but do you know what, I wish I could know how to use it, and you know like all the Word things like you do. I have got a thing that you plug in & Ive got my story on that that Im writing. (P13 Age 47)

14 Participants main use of the computer was to access the Internet Some were very familiar with the Internet I use it for online banking, so Im not, as I said Im not a technophobe, Im not scared of it. (P22 Age 39) Some had basic skills and tended to use the internet for things they had become familiar with, YouTube being the most popular Some had no Internet skills. Seven participants had not used computers prior to starting the BFO sessions. These sessions began by setting up an email address – necessary to register for BFO

15 Safety – some felt that it was unsafe to have details online Inexperience – Barrier I would like to learn more about it, do you know what I mean, how to like do things on it and that because with me not being able to do the basic things, I just wouldnt even go on it at all. (P12 Age 40) Cost – some felt technology was too expensive and so was not accessible for them Frustration – some didnt have patience and some had to use poor quality equipment which failed regularly Hostel training was sometimes provided in some hostels but trainers weren't always helpful with specific needs or only visited weekly Some hostel computers were dirty, computer rooms were hogged by certain people leaving other residents feeling unwelcome. In other hostels, residents were too nosy or invaded privacy

16 Personality Yeah, you can use it when you want, theres no making appointments, theres no clash with personalities. (P1, Age 62) Useful compared to a support group When I do go to my crack recovery group I do interact a lot and have a bit of banter as well, but I have noticed some people falling asleep in the background. With this one, at least youre doing something, you are interacting, so I think that is the advantage using this method of therapy rather than sitting in a semicircle. (P4, Age 46) A good place to start At this point now Im looking to sort myself out, so Im just looking to get my brain working again, and just start getting into things, keep myself occupied, start opening myself up a little bit. (P8, Age 32)

17 A new and different approach to recovery Learning – about recovery as well as about computers Something to do – kills boredom Client takes control of computer Support from mentor Helps staff get to know clients I was able to learn quite a lot about him in a short amount of time, more than just having a key work session, just chatting. Probably because theres quite specific questions that I wouldnt have just come out with probably on a first key work session. (M3) Its a nice prompt for a worker… If you was with a difficult client, that would be quite a nice prompt to use & sort of [a] tool to get somebody speaking, & because its the computer asking the questions & not you. (M3)

18 Client computers – Essential Many hostel residents are online and need an environment that enables them to maintain it Computer & Internet support – Essential – doesnt have to be structured classes Sometimes specific help is needed Using an online recovery programme can enable homeless drug users to benefit from technology and assist them in addressing their substance use


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