Bringing learning to the homeless

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A project which gave rough-sleepers a taste of studying is being set up as an example of how homeless people can be brought into education.

A report has just been published about the success of the Rolling Shelter Project, a nine-month scheme which finished in September 2001. It was run by the City Literary Institute in London and involved 23 arts-based workshops at six shelters. Around 250 people enrolled on courses including photography, creative writing and the performing arts. 70% completed their course.

The project was led by a team of teachers who used unconventional approaches to attract the students, including providing lessons in the shelters' dining rooms. The support of shelter workers was key to the success, said the report, Crossing the Threshold: Successful Learning Provision for Homeless People.

It may become a template for those wishing to attract homeless people into learning. It is said to have fostered better communication between the charities and the education system in central London, allowing rough sleepers to progress to mainstream education.

The report states: Tackling homelessness successfully requires more than just putting a roof over people's heads. Learning has a key part to play in improving confidence, identifying opportunities for change and helping homeless and socially excluded people to stay off the streets."

Crossing the Threshold: Successful Learning Provision for Homeless People is published by the Learning and Skills Development Agency and the City Literary Institute.

(TES, 21 March 2003)

Find more case studies on Housing and literacy.

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