Social Policy and Society

Themed Section on Exploring Multiple Exclusion Homelessness

Introduction: Themed Section on Exploring Multiple Exclusion Homelessness

Peter Dwyera1 and Peter Somervillea2

a1 School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Salford E-mail:

a2 School of Social Sciences, University of Lincoln E-mail:

Many of New Labour's welfare initiatives were underpinned by a stated desire to combat social exclusion among disadvantaged sections of the population. Allied to this, a commitment to end street homelessness/rough sleeping was an enduring feature of their term in office (for example SEU, 1998; DCLG, 2008). Of course, concerns about social exclusion predate New Labour, and a lack of meaningful involvement in many key areas of wider social life (for example, democratic and legal systems, the labour market, the welfare state, familial and (local) community networks) have long been identified as symptomatic of social exclusion (Commins, 1993). Previous research has also noted that homelessness rarely occurs in isolation and that many homeless people often carry with them a variety of other problems and experiences. It is clear that many homeless people experience ‘exclusion across more than one domain or dimension of disadvantage, resulting in severe negative consequences for [their] quality of life, well-being and future life chances’ (Levitas et al., 2007: 9), and, as such, can be viewed as experiencing multiple and/or deep social exclusion. This situation has been recognised by Carter (2007) who, noting a lack of resources, rights and opportunities, adopts the phrase ‘multiple exclusion homelessness’ (MEH) as a shorthand term to characterise the reality of many homeless peoples’ lives.

(Online publication August 05 2011)