The recent surge in street homelessness is the most visible indictment of the UK’s current homelessness crisis. It elicits differing policy, media and public responses, which are read by post-revanchist and post-secular narratives as contradictory mixes of punitive and compassionate policy approaches. This project looks at how this complexity plays out at the local community level and investigates the under-researched topic of outdoor relief in the form of soup kitchens, resource distribution and grassroots outreach. Framed as transitory and mobile care, the case of Brighton & Hove is examined through undertaking a policy review, organisational mapping and participatory walking interviews with volunteers delivering this care. Drawing from critical spatial thinking and the mobilities paradigm, this research explores unevenness in the spaces of urban homelessness as a way of breaking into these apparent contradictory responses. It applies Lefebvre’s conceptual triad of the production of space to the narratives of responses to homelessness found in the literature and the findings of the narrative analysis of the interviews with care-giving volunteers. It argues that this unevenness can be understood as symptomatic of the fluid and intersecting aspects of space. Volunteer narratives reveal that transitory and mobile care is not a uniform phenomenon, creating unevenness in spaces of urban homelessness through the ways it constitutes ‘lived space’ and its interactions with ‘conceived’ and ‘perceived’ space. This project demonstrates the value of researching these local community responses to street homelessness and recommends further research into their multiple mobilities, differing temporal aspects and dialectical interactions with dominant policy responses.
|Published - 26 Jul 2019