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Homeless Social Enterprise

Tackling the labour market exclusion of homeless people: The role of social enterprise homeless, social homelessness, social enterprise for homeless people

PhD researcher's name:      Gemma Rachel McKenna

University/Supervisors:       Middlesex (Melvyn Evans; Eleonore Kofman)

Partner organisation:           Crisis             

Impact highlights: Research Fellowship appointment at the Parliamentary Research Service (Labour), House of Commons; policy document - currently under consideration for Parliamentary presentation involving Shadow Ministers; and management skills gained.

The PhD thesis aimed to examine whether social enterprise provides employment and enterprise opportunities for homeless people and specifically explored the ways in which social enterprise meets the employment and enterprise needs of homeless people in England.

Gemma benefitted greatly from this CASE Studentship experience in a number of ways:

  • This comprised a solid foundation in research training through the whole PhD (including the PG Cert in Social Science Research Methods; training courses; and conferences) and the benefits from being involved with and supported by a 'cluster' of other PhD researchers who were working in a similar field such as other PhD students, supervisors and colleagues at the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University.
  • Following the completion of her PhD, Gemma was appointed as a Parliamentary Officer at the Parliamentary Research Service (Labour) based in the House of Commons where she writes short briefing notes (across Government departments) and draft responses to constituents on behalf of Shadow Frontbench Ministers and backbench Labour MPs to base the Labour policy position.
  • Gemma wrote a working paper based on her initial PhD findings which have been presented at several conferences. This paper won the 'best conference' paper award given by Middlesex University Conference in 2010.
  • Up-management and team management skills gained are highly regarded by the student. Gemma gained this skill while managing multiple stakeholders and multiple tasks through the PhD process. For example she currently manages the workflow for her team and this involves directing the team (including senior staff) to ensure turn-around of their briefs within 10 days. 

The partner organisation (Crisis) has also positively benefited from this experience.

  • Gemma is also currently writing a working paper/policy document commissioned by Crisis – the partner organisation. This paper will be presented at Crisis's annual conference in 2014.
  • Based on these PhD outputs and the relationship with Crisis, Gemma has recently made some contacts in Parliament with the Shadow Business Secretary's team and in the Cabinet Office (who now have responsibility for social enterprise) and both teams have said Shadow Ministers may attend a Parliamentary presentation if she were to give one.

If the event goes ahead, it may contribute to influence the policy process, raise the profile of Crisis in Parliament and eventually have an impact on the wellbeing of homeless people in the UK.

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