Social activities are important to help integrate those that feel socially isolated into their communities. This could be arts and crafts, music, sports, team building, leisure activities like concerts, films, outdoor activities and planned events.
MEANINGFUL OCCUPATION AND ACTIVITIES
Meaningful occupation and activities can give homeless people something positive to do with the aim of building their self esteem, developing their skills and building social networks away from the streets. Activities are also important in in preventing the boredom that may lead people to turn back to the streets, or to alcohol or drugs. Although the ultimate aim for many people will be paid employment, for others pre-vocational life skills training and confidence-building activities can help encourage them to develop healthier lifestyles.
Meaningful occupation and activities can be just as vital when homeless people have been rehoused in their own accommodation,when isolation and boredom can be most acute. There is rarely a clear dividing line between meaningful occupation and education, training and employment activities.
Coming in from the Cold, the Social Exclusion Unit’s 1999 Rough Sleeping strategy recognized the importance of Meaningful Occupation. The Government’s new rough sleeping strategy, No One Left Out – Communities ending rough sleeping published in November 2008 pledges to “extend positive activities that motivate and empower people to take greater control in their lives.”
Benefits of social and and creative activities
The benefits of engaging in creative activity for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are extensive. Participation can be beneficial from a therapeutic and recreational perspective, as well as helping people to overcome wider issues and develop specific skills.
It can also help people to develop and progress on their wider interests, providing them with something to do in an environment where boredom is a persistent problem. The development of wider interests is especially important in reducing the ‘anxiety, loneliness and pessimism’ that can often affect people once they moved on to independent accommodation. Creative and cultural activities offer a unique opportunity for the development of cross-sector partnerships. These can lead to innovative mechanisms to help address shared priorities and achieve significant outcomes. However, making these opportunities available to people experiencing homelessness needs investment and support from a wide range of partners in Hull and we work hard to push this subject to achieve our aims.
Tackling inequality and promoting social cohesion is a key priority for us and a large part of our work is to promote these benefits with the wider community and local business. This involves finding new and innovative ways to improve the circumstances of disadvantaged people by allowing them to participate in the social and economic life of their local communities. This is only made possible of course by the involvement of the community and local business.
We are constantly searching for new and improved ways to provide people with the support they need to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Much of this work has focused on efforts to reduce social exclusion by promoting greater involvement with their local communities.