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Within a rapidly expanding body of workexploring the role of hostels and day centres in the accommodation and care of homeless people, very little attention has been paid to the dynamics of the soup run. Soup runs have, however, recently become a focus of concern for the British Government who, echoing 19th century debates regarding the 'inappropriate' distribution of alms, argue that they are undermining attempts to reduce levels of rough sleeping by making it easier for people to survive on the streets. Drawing upon a postal survey, together with a series of interviews and participant observations, this paper develops an in-depth account of soup runs in Britain and explores the dynamics of the spaces involved. It argues that far from simply sustaining street homelessness, soup runs provide an important yet very complex series of spaces of care in the contemporary city. By their very nature, however—having a noninterventionist ethos, being transitory, and open to the public eye—the dynamics of these spaces differ in significant ways from those typical of geographically fixed spaces of care (Authors).
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