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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Underclass of 'educated homeless'
Rough sleeper
Many homeless people have had family problems
Substantial numbers of Britain's 400,000 homeless people have degrees, GCSEs or professional qualifications, according to a new survey.

An underclass of well educated people are sleeping rough or in temporary hostels and almost 50% of homeless people have some sort of qualification, the charity Crisis says.


Prospective employers may like my CV but when they see I live in a hostel, they lose interest

Jason, homeless
Crisis carried out a survey at a small sample of hostels across England, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Canterbury and Portsmouth.

They found:

  • Half of homeless people have some form of qualification
  • One in 10 has a degree
  • A quarter have GCSEs
  • 8% have A Levels
The findings undermine a commonly-held belief that education is the answer to poverty.

Instead, Crisis believes the figures underline just how complex a problem homelessness is.

Jason, a graduate trained as a chef, has slept rough and now lives in a hostel.

He told the BBC: "Prospective employers may like my CV but the minute they see I'm living in hostel, they lose interest.

Jason
Jason - a graduate - said he suffered prejudice
"It portrays a thief or a drug addict or something like that. It's a never-ending circle. I can't win."

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of Crisis, said the survey rang alarm bells for her staff.

She said: "It just goes to show education is no protection against homelessness. It can help you on the way out but if there are other problems, like family meltdown, it doesn't make a difference."

Alongside education, there needed to be a more integrated programme of help to get the homeless back to work, Mrs Ghosh added.

The study is being viewed as a snapshot of the make-up of the 400,000 homeless people in England - many who are not visible on the streets.
Graduation ceremony
A degree can get you nowhere

Crisis believes the issue of "sleeping rough" has moved on but the public, and decision-makers in government have yet to catch up.

Increasingly, homeless people are being taken off the streets and into hostels.

But, Mrs Ghosh said, that did not mean they no longer needed assistance.

She added: "Most have dependency issues, whether it be drink, drugs or mental health issues. Until we tackle that raft of problems we can only get so far."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Lisa Hampele
"Crisis says there are 400,000 people who are the hidden homeless"
See also:

20 Aug 02 | UK
25 Nov 01 | Education
23 Jan 01 | Education
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