Welfare Policy, Homelessness and Social Exclusion (WELPHASE)


Chris Bevan
Durham Law School
Durham University
United Kingdom

Joe Finnerty
School of Applied Social Studies
University College Cork
Cork, Ireland

Magdalena Mostowska
University of Warsaw
Warszawa, Poland

Yoshiro Okamoto
Chukyo University
School of Business and Public Policies
Nagoya, Japan

Central theme
The WELPHASE Working Group was founded in 2003 and has given a workshop at every annual ENHR conference since 2004. In the initial phase, homelessness was the core focus of the Working Group. The increasing awareness of the relationships between homelessness and housing, social exclusion and welfare policy, is reflected in the papers presented at more recent WELPHASE workshops. The papers usually reflect a considerable thematic diversity,albeit framed by the overarching focus of the Working Group.

Activities in 2022
A WELPHASE workshop ran at the Barcelona conference in September 2022. Eight papers across three sessions were presented. Thematically, these papers covered topics around the views and experiences of homeless people (2 papers), the perspectives of homelessness NGO service providers (2 papers), public attitudes to homelessness (1 paper), perspectives of homelessness policymakers (1 paper), and measurement issues (2 papers). In terms of methods, the papers drew on surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, documentary analysis and database analysis. Presenters came from and/or focused on, diverse national/city-level settings: Japan, Brazil/Spain, Finland, Ireland, Slovenia, Croatia, Norway, and Leuven/Philadelphia/Poland.

Future plans and activities
A WELPHASE workshop is planned for the upcoming conference in Łódź in 2023. The central WELPHASE theme fits well into the ‘urban regeneration’ theme of the conference – as much homelessness plays out in the context of changing city dynamics.
The Working Group coordinators look forward to receiving a broad range of papers concerning housing exclusion and homelessness in various settings, as well as welfare policy analyses and evaluations. We appreciate a variety of theoretical and practical approaches, as well as a variety of methods employed, that reflect current interests of the researchers, and we hope to have a fruitful discussion on those issues in a comparative perspective.
The WELPHASE Working Group welcomes papers at different stages of development varying from papers already accepted by a journal to drafts. Following the procedure of earlier workshops, a discussant is appointed to papers circulated within the workshop participants in advance, but also leaving time for questions and a general discussion. In this way, the workshop offers a valuable opportunity to receive comments and proceed with papers which are at the draft stage.
Also, the ongoing practice of keeping up contact with frequent ENHR conferences participants, exchanging research and policy news, as well as latest publications will be intensified.

Policy implications
The Working Group has strong links with research focused on social work, policy practice and policy evaluations. Many of workshop participants are practitioners in the field presenting their work for governmental, local governmental or voluntary bodies dealing with homelessness, housing policy and social exclusion. Homelessness research performed by academics is also of great interest to those who design and implement policy ‘on the ground’. Research presented at the Working Group workshops deals both with major issues of nation-wide policies, as well as small-scale practical problems of everyday work of case-managers and the like. The workshop is an excellent example of mutual implications and links between research and policy.

Activities outside the WELPHASE Working Group
Co-ordinators and regular attendees at the Working Group continue to be active in terms of research, publishing and conference presentations in relation to the key WELPHASE themes. e.g at FEANTSA annual research conferences (FEANTSA is the European federation of homelessness NGOs).