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A lexicon of homeless industry jargon: No. 1

May 21 2009
Let us help you understand what hostel staff really mean A new guide to the language of the 'homeless industry'... Appropriate Commonly used in hostels or care homes by hostel workers or other homeless professionals. You are more likely to come across its opposite, "inappropriate", which is used as a replacement for the outlawed words "bad" or "annoying": eg. "James's inappropriate use of the office continued today, he came in three times to ask the staff questions." Begging Asking passers-by on the street or in a tube station for money. Begging is very bad unless you are wearing a fluorescent bib, when it becomes "fundraising." According to experts, the proceeds of begging are used to buy drugs and alcohol, the proceeds of "fundraising" are used to buy computers, snazzy personal organisers or paint for offices. Engagement Talking to someone who works in the homeless industry. As talking to you is essentially what they get paid to do, it is imperative they use a more impressive word. You may also see the usage "engaging with services" which means going somewhere or doing something a worker has asked you to. Fundraising See begging. Key worker Every hostel resident has their very own personal worker who you can ask for assistance whenever you feel the need. In a hostel you will hear "key worker" all the time, usually in the following context, "I'm busy, ask your key worker," followed by "they're off sick for the next two months." Meaningful Any activity organised by a hostel worker is "meaningful", any activities organised by anyone else are almost certainly not: eg. "Martin continues to refuse to take part in any meaningful activity, preferring to spend his time in the library reading." Support Help, when said help is given by somebody paid to do so: eg. "One of Pete's friends helped him to read a letter, and I later supported him to find the remote control." Resettlement Moving, especially if a worker has played some part in arranging this. If you arrange it yourself it will probably just be moving. Facilitate See support. Substance use The new name for "substance abuse," it means taking drugs. Also sometimes applied to alcohol, it can be difficult to tell when drinking becomes substance use. As a rule, a hostel worker drinking 10 pints in the pub on a Friday night is not substance use, but a resident drinking three cans of Tennant's Super on a bench in the day is. Issues A problem. Help - Now facilitating, supporting or re-settling.
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