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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Underclass of 'educated homeless'
homeless people
People "fall on hard times" says charity
Significant numbers of homeless people have GCSEs, degrees and professional qualifications, research by the charity Crisis suggests.

A survey of 150 homeless adults in England found nearly half (47%) had some form of qualification.

Of those, 48% had GCSEs, 16% had A-levels, 15% had a university degree and 13% had professional qualifications.

Crisis also found that 85% of those surveyed had held down jobs in the past.

Jason
Jason says he has encountered prejudice
Crisis carried out the survey at hostels across England, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Canterbury and Portsmouth.

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.

"It portrays a thief or a drug addict or something like that. It's a never-ending circle. I can't win."

'Not beyond hope'

Chief executive of Crisis, Shaks Ghosh, said the image of homeless people as beggars in a doorway gave a false impression of hopelessness and helplessness.


The results of this research give us great hope - people have qualifications, they have worked before

Shaks Ghosh, Crisis
"The image we want to get across is much more positive - yes, these are people who have fallen on hard times, usually because of a personal crisis, but they are not beyond hope," said Ms Ghosh.

"The results of this research give us great hope - people have qualifications, they have worked before.

"And if we can help them solve their practical problems and the emotional issues surrounding them, then we can get them living normal lives again."

Ms Ghosh also said the survey rang alarm bells for her staff.

"It just goes to show education is no protection against homelessness," she said.

"It can help you on the way out but if there are other problems, like family meltdown, it doesn't make a difference."

Crisis says these individuals are often the "hidden homeless" because they are able to find themselves temporary accommodation in B&Bs, hostels, and on friends' floors.

Crisis estimates that there could be as many as 400,000 more homeless people than government statistics suggest.

The charity says high rates of divorce and relationship breakdown are contributing to the "hidden underclass".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Lisa Hampele reports:
"Crisis says there are 400,000 people who are the hidden homeless"
See also:

28 Aug 02 | Politics
25 Nov 01 | Education
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