Homelessness, health and stigma. Views and experiences of young people in Scotland.
People who are experiencing or at risk of become homeless are among the most vulnerable groups in society. They have complex needs that go beyond the access to housing and social benefits (Anderson & Ytrehus, 2012). The experience of homelessness can lead to poorer health outcomes as well as emotional issues that demand a holistic approach (Freeman et al, 2011). Vulnerable young people can be even more vulnerable than adult population. In many situations, young people experience ‘hidden' forms of homelessness that are not easily addressed by services and welfare.
In Scotland, vulnerable young people who are at risk of homelessness face a number of barriers to access health care (Freeman et al, 2011; Morrison, 2009; Scottish Government, 2005). Among these barriers, stigma appears as a relevant issue that has a direct impact on the way those youngsters access and experience health services. In our direct experience with these groups the fear of being discriminated by health practitioners seems to be a major driver that impacts on service engagement.
This ongoing research uses elements of the Theory of Social Representations (Moscovici, 1978) as a way to know the views and experiences of young people living in supported accommodations in Edinburgh. The research explored their views on health, homelessness and stigma through a series of workshops to have an initial approach with a group of young people living in youth homeless accommodations. We wanted to reflect upon the interplay between health and stigma, and the factors that can represent barriers and enablers to their engagement with health services.
After this initial approach semi-structured interviews will be conducted to explore views and experiences raised by the workshops. The material will be analysed using a thematic content analysis as proposed by Bardin (2003).
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