LHF and St Basils – a new way of working with homeless people


A grant award of £15,000 from the LHF is supporting St Basils in Birmingham in a radical new approach to helping young people who are homeless.

  • St Basils, Birmingham
  • £15,000
  • Period: Nov 2011 – Nov 2013

In June 2011, St Basils who work with homeless young people aged 16-25, embarked on a 3 year pilot training project in partnership with DCLG, Southampton University and the local Mental Health Trust. This project aims to train staff in core therapies to ensure young people accessing all St Basils services develop the emotional and psychological resilience needed to overcome the multiple challenges of being young and homeless.

Research by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in 2010 into complex trauma and homelessness identified that nationally 60% of homeless people suffer from ‘complex trauma’ compared with 10% of the general population. The report highlighted the value in creating a “Psychologically Informed Environment” (PIE) as the best means of addressing this situation.

The research revealed that people suffering from ‘complex trauma’ display behaviour which is a reaction to ongoing trauma from past events or difficult childhoods. As a result they are more likely to develop ‘ineffective coping mechanisms’ resulting in a mental health issue or dependent behaviour. Within that group they identified young people as being particularly vulnerable especially as adolescence can be a difficult time anyway.

However the research also identified that given the right support, counselling and training, people suffering from complex trauma can and do change. The traditional model of providing accommodation alone is not enough to address the multiple factors which can contribute to youth homelessness.

Jean Templeton, Chief Executive at St Basils, said “The young people we work with have very complex needs.  There are a variety of reasons why they end up homeless; there is very rarely a simple solution.  So we started working with Dr Nick Maguire from Southampton University to develop and implement a programme to make St Basils a ‘psychologically informed environment’.  This means we provide core training in psychological skills for our staff (180 trained to date) to enable them to better support our clients.”


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