Levels of homelessness are high and on the rise: not just rough sleeping, inadequate, unstable living conditions - "hidden homelessness" - affect large numbers of people, forced by circumstance to stay in bed and breakfasts, hostels, or on friends' couches or floors:

The issue

  • 1 in 10 people have been homeless at some point in their lives

  • In 2015, the government estimates that 2,744 people are sleeping rough on any one night – 55 per cent more than in 2010

  • 80,000 young people experience homelessness in a year in the UK

  • The average age of death of people living in hostels and shelters is just 47, compared to 77 for the general population

Whatever the causes of homelessness - relationship breakdown, long-term unemployment, ill health or a background in the criminal justice or care systems - a job provides the most sustainable route out. But the isolation, loss of confidence and other barriers that people with experiences of homelessness may face mean that they often need support to gain and sustain employment.

The case for business involvement

Homelessness is a complex issue. But by focusing on employment – their area of expertise – business can offer the long-term solution that those affected by homelessness need. The positive impacts of programmes like Ready for Work that help people away from homelessness into work go far beyond the individual supported. 

  • To society - the Social Return on Investment of Ready for Work is £3.12 for every £1 invested, and the programme generates a social impact of at least £3.2m for each year’s investment. It is estimated to cost the government £26,000 per year to support a homeless person who could be working.

  • To individuals – programme participants report benefits from increased self confidence, improved health and wellbeing, re-connecting with their families and an improved sense of self worth from being in work again.

  • To businesses – in the form of access to a talented, motivated and loyal workforce, skills development of employee volunteers involved in programmes and access to new businesses from demonstrating a positive social impact on disadvantaged communities.

Related resources

Starting work: Guidance for employers
This booklet outlines best practices to ensure good inductions for people with experience of homelessness.

Making Work Work
This report looks at reasons why homeless people may not always be better off in employment and suggests solutions.

Work Inclusion: a guide to best practice - executive summary
Guidance for businesses on supporting disadvantaged groups such as homeless people into work.


Related case studies

Ready for Work client case study: Simon
Simon explains how he went from rough sleeping to a steady job with Carillion.

Ready for Work client case study: Zola
Refugee Zola got a break into retail from Ready for Work.

Wates Group - Building Futures
The 2013 Work Inclusion Award winning programme, helping 54% of participants move back towards employment.

Freshfields - Ready for Work
Highly Commended in the 2013 Work Inclusion Award for offering over 200 homeless people work placements and coaching.

Related programmes

Business Action on Homelessness Leadership Team

Key contact

Lydia Parnell
Knowledge and Communications Co-ordinator, Work Inclusion

T: 020 7566 8760


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