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David Christie

History, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

A Hand up not a Hand Out': The Labour Governments and Street Homelessness, 1997-2010

My research is on the the Labour Governments’ interventions to reduce street homelessness. The issue was given a high priority by the Blair administration on coming to power in 1997 as one of the four target areas of the newly-created social exclusion unit reporting directly to the prime minister. A Rough Sleepers Unit (RSU) was set up to coordinate the work of central government, local government and voluntary sector actors, substantial resources were granted, and innovate working practices were utilised including the controversial practice of ‘assertive outreach’. Clear targets were set, and the aim of reducing rough sleeping by two-thirds was achieved before its target date of 2002. However, since 2010 homelessness has risen by 169% suggesting that whatever was achieved by the Labour Governments has been squandered, forgotten or failed to address the underlying roots of the issue. This research intends to investigate how the ideology and public policy practices of New Labour shaped their interventions in homelesness, and the efficacy of the multiple interventions they undertook. At its core will be an extensive use of oral history, interviewing key players in government, the RSU and its voluntary sector partners. In addition, interviews to determine the perspectives of practitioners (outreach workers, hostel mangers, mental health professionals etc) and homeless people who were affected by the process will be undertaken. 

Research Area

  • History