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Author(s): Andy Diaper

To cite this article: A, Diaper (2021). “Chasing Shadows: Young People, Homelessness and Covid-19, Youth Voice Journal: Critical youth voices on the Covid 19 pandemic: International perspectives, pp. 90-101. ISBN (ONLINE): 978-1-911634-37-9


Purpose: This paper examines the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the homeless by concentrating on the younger members of this population from the first lockdown in March 2020 to what was referred to colloquially as ’Freedom Day’ in July 2021.

Design/Methodology/Approach: This has been achieved by using an auto-ethnographic approach set in a town in Essex, England with local stakeholders and the young homeless. Conducting interviews with the homeless is problematic as this population by its nature is fluid, and inhabits the ‘shadow lands’ of society. The sample cohort is therefore small; however, the paper gives a snapshot on the lived experiences of the people both working and living within this field.

Findings: It examines this in two broad sections: firstly, giving an overview of looking at who is classed as ‘the homeless’ in the United Kingdom (UK). It will then go on to explore the concerns being raised with regards to the increasing number of rough sleepers and those who are considered as homeless before the onset of the pandemic. Secondly, in early 2020 as the destructive scale of the virus became apparent there were urgent calls for ‘something’ to be done to protect the homeless. It will look at the British Government’s policies to get all rough sleepers off the street and into emergency accommodation, and to protect those vulnerably accommodated from eviction. Whilst these policies were intended to alleviate the destructive nature of the virus, they also created problems in the provision of services to this cohort.

Keywords: Homeless, Young Homeless, Covid-19, Pandemic, Neoliberalism, Hidden Homeless, Bourdieu.

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