The paper at hand represents an urban health profile aimed at providing a rational and concise assessment of an urban health issue in the context of a particular community. In this paper, one will focus on the question of homelessness as one of the most critical problems in the current society. On the face of it, homelessness might seem to relate to the social field rather than to the aspect of health. Meanwhile, the relevant phenomenon implies a series of consequences that have a significant influence on the state of health of the homeless community. Among such factors, one should necessarily point out poverty, insanitary conditions and lack of access to quality medical services.
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Moreover, one can likewise consider the problem of homelessness as the indicator of the level of mental conditions present in a particular area. Thus, many sociologists agree on the point that mental illnesses are among the most typical causes of the discussed phenomenon along with distress and other social factors (Marvasti, 2003). As a result, homelessness can be regarded both as the outcome of the negative state of health in a particular community and as a reason for health decline.
The analysis of the homelessness phenomenon will be performed in the framework of the selected area, Swanscombe. A series of factors makes one presume that the relevant problem is particularly acute in the small ward in the Dartford Borough. First of all, the preliminary research has shown that the relevant warden has the highest rate of crime in the area (Kent Police, 2015). Secondly, according to the official statistics, Swancombe has the less developed household structure in the borough (Office for National Statistics, 2016). Therefore, the relevant signals of social disadvantage determine the choice of a ward for the health report.
The selected community is represented by a small town, Swanscombe, situated in the Dartfod Borough. One should, first and foremost note that the analyzed borough shows the lowers life expectancy in England as well as a significant level of poverty (Public Health England, 2015). According to the latest statistics, Swanscombe population makes 6,418 people; the number is significantly smaller than in other neighborhoods (Office for National Statistics, 2016).
One might notice that the majority of the undertakings, including the famous cement plant and the Blue Circle factory, are now closed that explains the fact that the town has the highest unemployment rate in the area (Office for National Statistics, 2016).
The ward has few schools and two academies, although one needs to move to the nearest neighborhood in order to receive higher education. As long as the community does not offer any opportunities for career advancement, one might assume that a large number of locals do not have a degree; those that study in universities have few motives to return to Swanscombe.
(Office for National Statistics and Department for Work and Pensions, 2011)
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The housing sector is mainly represented by small panel houses intended for one family’s lodging. One can hardly find any apartment blocks within the community. A significant part of the housing sector requires renovation and repair.
The nearest state hospital is situated within 3-4 kilometers from the town. Hence, apart from a few private health centers, one can hardly receive professional medical assistance within the community. In the meantime, the transport system seems to be well-developed; one can take a bus to any neighboring town almost every half an hour.
The town also has a big Swanscombe Heritage Park and a few green zones. The general impression of the recreation sector is rather negative due to the abandonment and the strong indication of the lack of proper upkeep. Poor illumination of the relevant areas, as well as a large amount of litter and rubbish, lets one assume that most part of the parks is hardly visited by the locals but may be used by the homeless.
The community has a modern child’s center that offers health care and developing services. The organization also encourages grown-ups to participate in volunteering activity. Unfortunately, in spite of the well-advertised volunteer movement, the town does not provide any practical help for homeless people. Thus, there are no homeless shelters in the community as well as in the nearest neighborhood.
On the whole, the community performs a negative impression due to the fact that the majority of the public zones are in a state of neglect, and the housing sector is unrepaired. Moreover, one might presume that the lack of essential health organizations and homeless shelters contributes to the general social decline and the increase of the number of homeless in the town.
The data collected through the observation process lets one draw a series of insights. First of all, it is necessary to note that the issue of homelessness proved to be interconnected with the general state of health in the residents of a particular community. The assumption that homeless people are more likely to comprise a health risk group is supported by the majority of sociologists. Thus, the recent research has shown that homeless people are more susceptible to acquiring various diseases due to the unfavorable conditions of living. According to the researchers, the principal factor determining poor health in homeless is the lack of access to the official medical centers (Marjorie, Robertson & Cousineau, 2008).
In the case of Swanscombe’s community, it is not only homeless but all the other social groups as well that are deprived of professional health care services within the town. In the meantime, whereas the fact that homelessness leads to sickness is undoubted, there is no reliable evidence that homelessness contributes to the spread of diseases. Hence, the research on the health of urban USA has shown that cities might have a high rate of disease distribution regardless of a relatively low level of homelessness (National Association of County and City Health Officials, 2007).
As long as the negative impact of homelessness on the health condition seems to be evident, one might analyze the principal causes of this phenomenon. To begin with, it is necessary to point out that the size of the community seems to have no relation to the homelessness rate. Thus, the official statistic shows that wards of different sizes might have a similar homelessness indexes (Office for National Statistics, 2016).
Therefore, one is inclined to believe that the principal cause of homelessness is economic deprivation. The relevant theory is widely discussed by sociologists. Hence, there is an opinion that the key factors determining one becoming homeless are unemployment, low income, and the lack of social assistance services (Burrows, Pleace & Quilgars, 2013).
The latter seems to be particularly critical for homeless youth. The research shows that a large percentage of young people become homeless because they fail to find helpful community centers (Strike et al, 2014). From this perspective, the community under analysis represents a favorable background for the development of homelessness. The town does not offer sufficient occupation resources and social care centers are several kilometers away from Swanscombe.
Since the cause and the outcomes of homelessness seem to be clear, one might focus on potential ways of improving the situation. In this view, two aspects might be particularly critical. The most significant part of the problem resides in reducing the number of homeless. One assumes that every community needs to have services that will provide shelters and primary assistance to such people. Some specialists note that faith communities might be highly helpful in resolving social issues (Cave, Cooke & Benson, 2004). The next important point is providing health services for the already existing groups of homeless. As long as homeless people do not possess insurances that would cover the treatment, the government is to see to simplifying their access to the relevant services.
The urban health profile at hand has enabled one to examine the selected community, Swanscombe, from the perspective of a healthy environment. The principal focus was put on the problem of homelessness, the factors that cause it, and the potential risks and outcomes. The qualitative and quantitative analyses have shown that the general environment within the ward is likely to encourage homelessness. Moreover, the town does not provide any tools for resolving the following problem. Therefore, according to the analysis of the relevant literature, one might presume that homelessness in Swanscombe has negative influence on the health statistics in the community. The phenomenon is likewise apt to impact the average expectancy rate in the region.
The study of the collected data and the scholarly sources on the issue allow one to suggest a series of recommendations aimed at improving the situation. First and foremost, the community needs to establish a quality medical organization that will be able to serve both homeless and all the other residents. Secondly, the ward lacks a service responsible for assisting homeless people. Thus, the foundation of homeless shelters in Swanscombe is highly recommended. Finally, in the longer term, the local authorities will need to improve the employment facilities in order to lower the currently present risks of homelessness in the town.
Burrows, R., Pleace, N. & Quilgars, D. (2013) Homelessness and Social Policy. New York, Routledge. Web.
Cave, B., Cooke, A. & Benson, K. (2004) Urban Renaissance Lewisham – Health and Social Impact Assessment. London, NHS Lewisham PCT. Web.
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