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Counting the Homeless in the UK Census By Emma Wood, Head of Field Force Operations, ONS.

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Presentation on theme: "Counting the Homeless in the UK Census By Emma Wood, Head of Field Force Operations, ONS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Counting the Homeless in the UK Census By Emma Wood, Head of Field Force Operations, ONS

2 Enumeration of homeless/rootless Enumeration of those in hostels and night shelters Enumeration of Rough Sleepers –2001- Methodology, outcome and lessons learnt –2011 Research and current plans

3 Homeless Rootless Next UK Census 27 March 2011 People will be counted where they are usually resident People staying in a household with no usual residence counted where they are staying Not distinguishable from other household residents.

4 Hostels and Nightshelters Treated as Communal Establishments Establishment managers complete questionnaire about the establishment Those staying their complete an Individual questionnaire – assuming they have no usual residence elsewhere Establishment Manager responsible for getting Questionnaires out and back from those staying there. Questionnaires delivered and collected by Census staff who will support Manager.

5 Counting Rough Sleepers Conducted 29/30 April 2001 between 22:00 and 06:00. Used teams of Census field staff with support from Local Authorities and outreach workers. Individual completed questionnaire or Enumerators did this on their behalf. Sleepers not woken up – Enumerators guessed basic demographic information

6 Rough Sleepers – 2001 Results 938 Rough Sleepers counted 866 staff required to achieve this count Some local counts contradicted Census counts – some Census counts disputed

7 Rough Sleepers 2001 – Lessons learnt Needed more help from voluntary sector and LAs to improve quality and cost effectiveness. Very difficult to balance requirements of central government, local government and voluntary sector and still carry out an independent count.

8 Towards Research Liaising with Department for Communities and Local Government Local Authorities must conduct counts at least once a year if more than ten rough sleepers Observed Local Authority count in Westminster – attracts a lot of Rough Sleepers and conducts counts twice a year

9 Westminster count Westminster divided into sectors. Teams of two sent to count – paired voluntary sector staff with Local Authority staff Independent verifier used Local Police used to follow-up missing information Approach much more informal then a Census Enumeration

10 Westminster – who was included in the count People sleeping or bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters), people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars derelict boats or stations).

11 Westminster Count Many people encountered did not fit the precise definition of ‘bedded down’ However, precise definition needed to prevent double counting Used team of approx 35 to count approx 70 Very good use of local knowledge and expertise of working with this group

12 Future trends Aim to end Rough Sleeping by 2012 More investment in day time support Fewer opportunites to sleep rough

13 Plans for 2011 Had hoped to conduct LA counts around time of Census and use the data gathered to collect key demographic questions for Census. Now ruled out – Census regulations mean individuals must get opportunity to complete their own questionnaires Possible change of government in 2010 would be a significant risk

14 Plans for 2011 Now likely to use a Census field force to count rough sleepers as in 2001 Working with membership organisation for UK homeless agencies – Homeless Link Investigating ways of increasing the number of LA and voluntary sector helpers – to be involved in the count or in the training Considering how we will spread the message to the voluntary sector and to Rough Sleepers that the Census is beneficial

15 Conclusions Counting Rough Sleepers is a big challenge Difficult to balance quality with cost effectiveness Answer lies in statistical organisations forming relationships with homelessness organisations and in utilising expertise


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