Manor Park student uses her dissertation to tackle Newham’s homeless crisis

Rowshonara Begum, who completed her dissertation on homelessness. Picture: Ken Mears

Rowshonara Begum, who completed her dissertation on homelessness. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A student from Manor Park has completed a dissertation on homelessness, having seen the problem spike in Newham in recent years.

University of East London student Rowshonara Begum spent the last year conducting research, surveys, and interviews to create the 15,000 word thesis.

According to housing charity Shelter, Newham has the highest number of rough sleepers in London.

“Recently I have seen a lot more homeless people, especially in the Stratford Centre,” Rowshonara said.

“I felt like nothing was being done about it, so thought I’d find out what the government do to help these people.”

The criminal justice student used an empirical research method to carry out the work, meaning she went out to the public and homeless shelters to do surveys and interviews.

“I found a lot of people who said they were actively using drugs,” she explained.

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“Some of them before they were homeless, and that’s what made them homeless.

“I also found that homeless people commit crimes, but not generally crimes that hurt people. They’ll take food from bins, which doesn’t harm anyone, but it’s still a crime in the eyes of the law.”

In her thesis, Rowshonara said it was vital the community and government do more.

“I don’t think government’s doing enough,” she said.

“For instance, in The Housing Act there’s quite a few steps that people need to take to get homes. When you first apply, you’re put into two categories, and I think the majority of homeless people don’t belong in either so it’s very difficult to get housed.”

Rowshonara said she was pleased to see Newham’s mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, providing concrete proposals on homelessness, including a 20-bed homeless centre and more daytime facilities.

“I think Rokhsana’s proposals are a very good start,” she said.

“Homelessness is a major thing in Newham, and a topic which is overlooked, so what she’ll do is helpful.”

After graduation in July, Rowshanara is considering doing a masters degree, but said she doesn’t want her work to go to waste.

She said: “I’m pleased with it, not because I got a first, but because it’s about making an impact.

“It’s not about me, anyone can do research. I just need to show society how important the topic is.”

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