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How the lessons of 1940’s offal can help end rough sleeping today.

Updated: Jul 31


Back in the 1940’s in America during the Second World War they had food shortages. The Government of the day wanted to encourage American house wife’s to start using offal as an alternative food source.

For those who don’t remember offal being available at the butcher’s it is the innards of an animal, the heart, the liver, the kidneys and stomach.


So the Government tasked a psychologist by the name of Kurt Lewin to go out there and persuade house wife’s to use offal. So he tried two ways with two different groups. The first group he went to he lectured them on the reasons and rationale for using offal, supporting the war effort etc. The second group he went and asked them what recipes they could make to use offal.


Later when they went back to do some research they found that only 2% of group one, those he had been lectured, had started to use offal, however 37% of the second group who helped develop recipes had started and continued to use offal as part of their diet.

This story highlights how, in challenging times and when resources are limited, working with people rather than telling people produces much better results.


This week hotels that have been used for emergency accommodation for those who were rough sleeping have started to decant. Over the next few weeks most, if not all, will follow.

The expectation is that those using them will take up the single service offers that are being given and stay off the streets. These are often people with very complex needs, needs that go far beyond four walls and frequently involve some form of childhood trauma.


We know from our research that less than 2% want to go back to living on the streets, almost all aspire to having their own flat that they could start to call a home. For the same reasons that kept those very people on the streets we could see many of them returning. Those reasons are no more than you would expect.


Do you not expect to have your voice heard? Would you not want to have at least some choice when it came to something as fundamental as your home? Do you not have hopes and aspirations for your future and for your family’s?


Just because people have complex needs that lead to complex lives does not mean that they don’t have a right to heard, a right to choice and to have aspirations and hope.

Listening to people and supporting them to design their own pathways and journeys that build on their aspirations, even with the limited resources available, will mean that many more will stay off the streets and start to build fulfilling lives.


We are calling on National Government to make it mandatory for local authorities and service providers to work with those in emergency accommodation and not lecture them on why they must take a single service offer.

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