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Homeless people’s leisure practices within and beyond urban socio-scapes.

Author Category Source

Urban Studies, 53(5), 899-914

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This article examines the role of leisure in the lives of homeless individuals in New Zealand and England.

It explores how leisure activities provide a means for homeless people to cope with, make meaning of, and survive the harsh realities of street life. The study is grounded in the context of increased societal inequity and polarisation, focusing on 99 homeless individuals’ leisure practices across various urban spaces. The authors argue that leisure is not only a means of temporary escape but also a crucial aspect of maintaining humanity and well-being for those experiencing extreme urban poverty. The research highlights how leisure activities, ranging from imaginative engagements to physical journeys, allow homeless individuals to reconnect with their sense of self and the broader community. These leisure pursuits are often contested due to societal perceptions and the commodification of leisure, leading to challenges in accessing leisure spaces and resources. The study’s findings emphasise the importance of acknowledging and supporting the leisure needs of homeless people as part of a holistic approach to addressing homelessness. The article provides valuable insights into the experiences of homeless people in New Zealand, particularly in relation to the use of leisure as a coping mechanism. It highlights the unique challenges faced by this marginalised group within the New Zealand context, including societal attitudes and barriers to accessing leisure spaces. As the authors note, one particular leisure space is a community garden located just outside of the Auckland CBD and on land that has been returned to local Māori. This garden offers a restorative leisure space that is textured by inclusive politics. It was created by a group of Māori homeless people and members of Ngati Whatua as a judgement-free space for homeless gardeners. At the garden, these homeless people are afforded a sense of place that contrasts with their lives in the broader landscape of despair. The study contributes to the broader understanding of homelessness in New Zealand, emphasising the need for comprehensive support systems that address not only housing but also social participation and leisure activities.

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