Did you know that there are 71,400 sofa-surfers across the country, making it the largest form of homelessness?
What is sofa surfing?
When someone has no home of their own they may sleep in a friend, relative or acquaintance’s house. They could be sleeping on the sofa or on the floor, whilst they try to find a place of their own. We call this sofa-surfing.
Many of the people we have supported will drift between sleeping on friends' sofas, in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping.
In research conducted by Crisis, over half of sofa surfers that were interviewed were under 35.
Why people sofa surf
The reasons why someone might sofa surf are varied. It could be due to splitting from a partner, fleeing domestic abuse, having no family to turn to, losing employment or tenancies ending.
One of the key drivers of sofa-surfing is a lack of affordable housing. In a Crisis report, over half of participants stated that this was the key reason why they had to sofa-surf. Housing benefit not covering the price of rent was also another major reason most people gave.
Negative impacts of sofa surfing
People who sofa-surf have no home and no place of their own. They often have to sleep at many different houses as most people can only take them in temporarily. They have no security in where they will be every night.
This can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health. They may feel like they are a burden to their host and be stressed about their living situation. Sometimes, due to feelings of shame about their situation, they will avoid friends and family, leading to feelings of isolation.
Sofa-surfing can also cause physical pain, particularly extreme back and neck pain and chronic fatigue. With no access to cooking facilities, they may suffer from poor diets.
National homelessness charity Crisis found that 80 per cent of people they surveyed said their mental health had suffered and 77 per cent said that their physical health had deteriorated as a result of sofa surfing.
And sofa-surfing can be a long-term situation. A third of homeless people who are sofa-surfing in the UK have been doing so for over six months, according to research from Crisis.
How you can help
Join Simon's Big Sofa Surf on 27th November. All you need to do is spend one night sleeping on your sofa.
Choose to spend one night sofa surfing, so that someone else may never be forced to. Sign up now, and we'll send you your fundraising pack.