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To not know who or what to believe any more!

(108 Posts)
Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:14:52

I had the radio on this morning, and there was a sad piece about the number of children in the county who would wake up homeless.

Then later I discovered that these stats were misleading, that the 'homeless' children were included in cases of overcrowding, so children sharing a room for instance.

I can't read the guardian any more, the BBC is biased from threads I've read here.

I don't know whether the kids company thing has made me feel as if I just can't trust any stats, any piece of information , any claims by charity. I've cancelled all my direct debits as I just feel like everyone is lying to me and I'm sick of it!

AIBU, and cynical/jaded?

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 02-Nov-15 20:16:41

I don't think you are cynical or jaded.

I think it's in the nature of news media that sometimes, there are reports that aren't accurate (deliberately or not). Some people get taught about this at school, and taught how to understand bias, and inaccuracy, and how to analyse news reports. We did it for GCSE English, IIRC. But it's not taught as much as it might be, and it is important.

kesstrel Mon 02-Nov-15 20:21:56

News agencies and newspapers (and probably the BBC) don't have the money to do proper fact checking or investigative journalism any more. They end up printing press releases from charities etc almost verbatim. If the public won't pay for good quality reporting, we won't get it.

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:30:08

I have a degree in English and am an English teacher so I like to think I can detect bias smile but sometimes the way information is presented is misleading to the point of being outright lies.

If you say 'five hundred children will wake up homeless on Christmas day' that isn't biased: it's a lie - the truth would be 'five hundred children will wake up in unsuitable housing.'

ArcheryAnnie Mon 02-Nov-15 20:35:32


I do regularly donate to charity, and although I'm on a low income I did once give a bit to Kids Company, which presumably disappeared into the maw of the plush house and the drug payments to children (allegedly). But I'd rather be ripped off a million times than allow it to change me into someone who will walk on by and assume everyone is a cheat.

ghostyslovesheep Mon 02-Nov-15 20:39:56

can you link to the facts about it 'including kids sharing a room'?

My understanding was it included children in temporary accommodation - which is homeless - no safe or suitable home

I wasn't aware it included children in secure tenancies but overcrowded

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:45:01

That's just it ghost, I don't know. I can't find one piece of unbiased or straightforward information anywhere.

Your post is correct insofar as (for example) a family may be deemed to be in temporary accommodation if they are overcrowded if you follow me - but still not homeless.

Of course that's still very sad but I just hate the way I can't seem to access straightforward non-biased information anywhere.

ghostyslovesheep Mon 02-Nov-15 20:47:41

No what it means is temporary accommodation all in one room in a B+B not 'over crowded'

These are families with no secure home - no tenancy - no cooking facilities, shared bathrooms all in one room and classed as in need of housing

it's not biased

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:48:26

That's one interpretation but not the correct one according to friends who work for the council.

ghostyslovesheep Mon 02-Nov-15 20:48:54

a family is only deemed to be in temporary accommodation if they are in temporary/emergency accommodation - not if they have a home but need more rooms confused

ghostyslovesheep Mon 02-Nov-15 20:49:53

well as someone who works for the council and SS I can tell you it is how we view it - temporary accommodation is NOT secure accommodation and it's not a home

hence being homeless

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:50:36

So you don't think there's any chance at all a charity are exaggerating to get more donations? Don't pull faces at me please ghost, for questioning something. I think after the utter chaos with Kids Company we should be asking questions, we should demand people say exactly what they mean!

ghostyslovesheep Mon 02-Nov-15 20:52:45

they are saying exactly what they mean that is the number of children not in secure accommodation - that's just a fact

I'm not pulling faces at you!

I think you're struggling to understand the campaign is all

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 02-Nov-15 20:53:04

leaving, I didn't say bias was the only issue - I said inaccuracy was an issue too.

Detecting bias is only part of it.

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:56:30

I'm not struggling to understand at all, ghost, I have been on Shelter's website and unfortunately am on an iPad so can't cut and paste but will quote that under the definition of homelessness, amongst a lot of others, it states - it isn't reasonable for you to stay in your home any longer which could apply to a plethora of extremely genuine reasons but nonetheless isn't homelessness as most people would understand it.

Jeanne, it's the lack of accuracy that irritates me. It means I don't trust any sources fully and it puts me off donating or giving time or money or in some cases even sympathy!

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 02-Nov-15 21:01:13

Lack of accuracy irritates me a bit too - but I don't really understand what you're getting at here.

You read something in the paper, surely, as an educated person, you take it with a pinch of salt and, if you're that bothered, you check it out.

Maybe you find someone telling you it's inaccurate; maybe someone else (like ghost) will argue it's not inaccurate but based on an unfamiliar definition. Maybe someone (like me) will then argue we're not really talking about inaccuracy, but about the paper not explaining its terms and their origins properly.

But all of that's fairly normal, surely? We argue about the news all the time.

This can't be the first time you've noticed this.

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 21:05:14

Jeanne, yes, and no.

I have always known that some papers and media have been extremely biased with the way news is presented, of course, and yet what I am noticing more and more is that it is impossible to 'check it out' because information just isn't easily available.

If you hear on the radio that children are waking up homeless and once you look into it discover that everyone's got a different definition of what constitutes homelessness and so no one has actually lied or misled and yet, and yet ... It's confusing and for whatever reason it's frustrating me.

I wouldn't say I'm educated as such.

scott2609 Mon 02-Nov-15 21:06:47

Legal Adviser specialising in housing law, specifically around homelessness. I have advised thousands of homeless households over the years.

A household would be classed as 'homeless' if they were statutorily overcrowded. It is very difficult to be classed as stat overcrowded because the number of people who can share a space legally and the types of rooms that are classed as suitable to live in mean most people are either clearly just about ok.

Those properties I've seen where they are stat overcrowded are absolutely dire and certainly no place for a child.

Whilst I can't say for definite that those who are statutorily overcrowded aren't included in this 100,000 statistic (since they would be counted in the DCLG's homeless stats) if they are, they will make up a tiny proportion. As above, I find their case no less compelling because the conditions they live in are simply appalling.

People will not be included in these stats just because they have children sharing a room. You might, perhaps, be thinking along the lines of the (much misunderstood) 'rule' about children over the age of ten being 'entitled' to a room each. A woman with two kids aged 8 and 15 would in a two bed property would not be stat overcrowded.

Shelter are absolutely amazing and do so much work not only to raise awareness about the abject misery that thousands upon thousands of vulnerable people find themselves in, they give fantastic legal advice for free and advocate until they're blue in the face for their clients.

Trust me when I say that things in the world of housing & homelessness right now are terrifying- I advise people, many of whom with kids, many of whom who have decent incomes, who find themselves homeless and battling against the odds to try and get help.

If there were ever a charity requiring your support, it's Shelter (and no, i promise i don't work for them!)

Should you still be unsure, I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have about homelessness.

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 02-Nov-15 21:08:49

I can't honestly tell if I know what you mean or not ... I think maybe I do.

I end up feeling frustrated about these things because I keep wanting there to be a simple answer: x number of children are homeless, so we need to raise y amount of money, and then we'd be ok. Sorted.

And I do think that pre-recession, it was easier to feel enthusiastic and confident that charities were really helping and raising the money they needed, and targeting the people in need.

But I don't think what's changed is the media or the charities. I think it just is frustrating and confusing, because there is far too much need and too little money.

almondpudding Mon 02-Nov-15 21:10:06

The number of children in the UK who are rough sleepers must be absolutely tiny. It will consist of runaways and other children not in contact with housing services, because we don't let children live on the streets in the UK.

So homeless children means children who are sleeping in a friends' living room because they have nowhere else to go, or in a caravan, or in emergency accommodation including rooms in refuges to keep them off the streets, or are going to be evicted imminently from their houses.

I don't think most people believe that homeless children means we're letting babies, toddlers etc live on the street in the UK.

scott2609 Mon 02-Nov-15 21:13:25

Lots of people may have a different idea about what constitutes homeless, but the law (and therefore shelter, who have many solicitors' offices) certainly does not. The definition of what constitutes 'homeless' or not is absolutely clear.

I think many of you would be truly shocked if you knew what kinds of conditions the people living in homeless bed and breakfasts face and the far reaching consequences it has on everybody, most of all the children, forced to reside there.

Leavingsosoon Mon 02-Nov-15 21:15:43

I daresay they don't, almond, but then it does rather beg the question - well what do they mean?

Scott's extremely helpful and informative post for instance - couldn't the gist of that be shared (sorry Scott; I'm not necessarily suggesting you come and speak on my local radio!) rather than the vague sort of mumblings that we actually get?

I recognise that statistics can often be misleading, but I feel when they are deliberately presented in a way that seems to serve to deliberately mislead it can make you loose trust.

almondpudding Mon 02-Nov-15 21:18:23

Homelessness isn't a problem that ever gets solved and will go away either.

That would be like saying we will resolve healthcare by making all the sick people better. There will always be a need for preventative health care and there will always be more sick people.

A lot of the job of homelessness charities is preventing homelessness by helping those who are vulnerably housed and those who struggle to maintain a tenancy without support.

scott2609 Mon 02-Nov-15 21:19:35

And whilst it would be fair to say the number of children sleeping 'rough' is very low, please do realise that it does happen. Nearly always when somebody at the local authority 'gatekeeps' and gives purposely inaccurate legal advice so push away people who are legally entitled to temporary accommodation, simply because the council do not have the time, money resources to place everybody who approaches and requires it.

We usually find they sleep in a car though.

This example is recent and very telling. The local authority were foolish enough to accidentally admit to the (unlawful) advice they gave this couple and I imagine somebody there will be shitting themselves over this.

almondpudding Mon 02-Nov-15 21:22:27

I don't think it is misleading. I am not sure of the exact legal definition, but I would say it is in the ballpark of a child who, either currently or within the next month, has no housing that is both safe and that they are legally entitled to occupy.

How can it be misleading if nobody thinks child homelessness means child rough sleepers?

The definition of homelessness isn't some new thing.

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