“Never Give Up on Anyone”: Educating about Homelessness

Sponsor: Museum of Homelessness (MoH) MoH Sponsor Picture
Sponsor Liaison(s): Matt and Jess Turtle
Student Team: Geraldine Benn
Tess Hudak
Marissa Pereira
Yanxi Xie

The Museum of Homelessness (MoH) is driven by a core principle of giving a voice to the people who have been silenced throughout history, especially with regards to the homeless community. The goal of this project was to assist the museum in the creation of educational resources to help schools fulfill a part of the Citizenship Curriculum, primarily Key Stages 3 and 4. Through extensive research, interviews, workshops, and a review of curricular materials on homelessness, the team developed a set of deliverables that included new web pages, a school database, a good practice guide and a set of lesson plans. Educating students about homelessness is one way to increase awareness about homelessness and instill the ideas of acceptance and tolerance in generations to come.



MoH Final Report

MoH Final Presentation

MoH Database of Schools

Catalogue of MoH Collection

Good Practice Guide Framework

Lessons and Supplemental Materials

Executive Summary

Despite being a continual part of culture, homelessness is inherently problematized in mainstream discourse. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of recorded homeless people in the U.K. in the last decade. There is no one singular cause for the rise in the homeless population, but it can be particularly attributed to changing housing policies and a disparity between the percent increase in annual income and nearly double percent increase the cost of purchasing a house since 2007. The homeless population face daily challenges and are often misunderstood and marginalized by mainstream society. Increasing awareness through education is one way to address some of these misunderstandings.

Giving a voice to people who have been silenced throughout history, especially with regards to the homeless community, is a principle by which the Museum of Homelessness (MoH) was founded. Co-founders, Jess and Matt Turtle, run the museum, along with a core team of individuals who are greatly supported by dedicated volunteers. The goal of this particular project is to develop educational resources to help schools fulfill a part of their curriculums, primarily in Key Stages 3 and 4. This project is intended to increase awareness about homelessness and expand the MoH’s influence through the creation of educational materials. Educating students about homelessness is one way to enhance public empathy and help eliminate some of the stigmas associated with homelessness.

Teaching homelessness in schools will not only help fulfill a part of the Citizenship and Personal, Social, Health, and Economics (PSHE) Curricula, but spark an understanding of homelessness in the next generation. Through interviews and desk-based research, the team confirmed the necessity of this project, reaffirmed the merit to teaching beyond testing material, and validated the importance of teaching about homelessness. The interviews revealed there is a lack of general understanding and knowledge about the topic, but there is potential in the current curriculum for homelessness to be added. The team developed four deliverables that aim to increase awareness through varying means of outreach and education.

  • New web pages for the MoH that includes a new Learn More tab for anyone who is interested in learning more about homelessness in the United Kingdom.
  • A school database that provides a preliminary list of schools for the MoH to contact for future integration of the resources that were created as a result of the project.
  • A good practice guide that the MoH will promote to teachers. The guide outlines approaches on how teachers can effectively teach homelessness in the classroom, and explains the sensitivities that exist around homelessness and serves to answers anticipated questions.
  • A set of lesson plans that meet Key Stage 3 and 4 requirements and incorporate objects from the museum’s collection. Each lesson is accompanied by worksheets and corresponding activities.

Interviews with educators provided insight into the workings of a classroom, while the needs and perspectives of the homeless community and professionals in the homelessness sector provided insight into what topics they felt would be important to focus the materials on. Their perspectives helped both identify the information that should be integrated into our materials and complete our resource framework. After working with the Museum of Homelessness and researching homelessness and education, the team determined several conclusions and recommendations for the museum.

There is a serious need to ensure the information is correct. It will become crucial to continually update the website and materials to portray the most accurate and up to date data for those interacting with the resources. In the materials, it is important to attract students’ attention and create material that will be interesting and engaging. The museum should create lessons and resources that are interactive and let students think independently.

Teachers need to be educated on the presentation of sensitive subjects and social issues to combat the need for these discussions in the classroom. Teacher education can begin with a workshop to generate an understanding of the necessary precautions that should be addressed when discussing a sensitive subject with students. The school curriculum is ever changing. The need to grow with the changes is vital to the continuation of the MoH’s educational program, because if the program did not transform existing materials to satisfy new or edited curricula, it would become obsolete.

Overall, the museum has the potential and determination to become a source of accurate, comprehensive, and empathetic information regarding homelessness and its impact on every citizen in the U.K.