Help the Aged is carrying out a pioneering action research programme to ensure that the views of older homeless people influence improvements in the services they use. The Older Homelessness Research Officer works closely with individual projects to help them identify what older homeless people think of the services they offer and how they can be developed and improved Projects participating in this work include: Bondway, Providence Row, the Spires Centre and City and Hackney Alcohol Counselling Service. We plan to publish a survey of the views of older homeless people on current service provision in 2001 which will be followed by the detailed findings of our action research in 2003. This work will be completed in 2002 when we hope to make a series of recommendations about how we can combat this problem and protect older people. This work will be preceded in 2001 by a broad campaign looking at the issues facing older private tenants. Next year we also plan to commission research into the needs of older homeless women and to identify gaps in service provision.
A questionnaire was recently sent out to 900 homelessness agencies across the UK, to begin to examine the extent of service provision for older people and to identify gaps in this provision. Help the Aged will produce a directory of older homelessness agencies to help develop a network of projects working with older people. The identification of this network will strengthen our campaign and our call for more resources to be invested in this sector.
In April 1999 Help the Aged ran a national conference on older homelessness, 'Changing Lives for Good?'. Delegates from homelessness services made a number of recommendations, which Help the Aged has successfully incorporated into its current work. In September 2000, Help the Aged and HACT funded and ran a special seminar designed for homelessness projects across the UK, to bring them together to share information and knowledge.