I-SPHERE Newsletter April 2021

This newsletter highlights what the I-SPHERE team have been up to over the winter and what’s coming up this spring and summer.


Appointments and Reviews

Professor Morag Treanor has been selected to be a member of The Promise Oversight Board set up to drive the findings of the Independent Care Review.  https://thepromise.scot/  #KeepThePromise

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick chaired the Prevention Review Group (PRG), convened by Crisis at the invitation of the Scottish Government, which launched it’s report on strengthening legal duties to prevent homelessness in February.  At a recent Shelter Scotland hustings, SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrats said that they would be committed to bringing forward legislation which delivers on these PRG recommendations in the new Scottish Parliament.


Recent Publications

Destitution in the UK

On 9th December 2020, Destitution in the UK 2020 study was published, the third in the series of these flagship reports for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  The report found more than a million UK households experienced destitution at some point in 2019, with these households containing 2.4 million people, including 550,000 children. This represents an increase of approximately 54% in the number of people experiencing destitution since 2017.

The report attracted extensive coverage in national and local media when it was published and prompted oral questions to Ministers in both Houses of Parliament within a week of publication.  Media coverage included extended packages in BBC News at Six, Channel 4 Evening News and Radio 4 Today Programme and articles in The Guardian, Financial Times, Telegraph, Mirror and Independent, as well as being covered extensively in regional media and internationally via Le Figaro, Brussels Morning and the global newswires.

We published London specific findings from the research which were promoted by the Mayor of London as part of his call for support for families living in poverty.

UK Housing Review

The Chartered Institute of Housing published The UK Housing Review 2021 at the end of March authored by I-SPHERE Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick alongside Mark Stephens, John Perry, Peter Williams, Gillian Young. The Review found that in England the supply of social rented homes had fallen by almost 210,000 between 2012 and 2020.   Only 11% of new ‘affordable’ homes built in England are at genuinely affordable social rents, compared with nearly 70% in Scotland and over 80% in Wales. Click here for further information or to order a copy of the full report.

Core Homelessness

In December Crisis published updated core homelessness estimates and projections by Professor Glen Bramley which found that, on any given night in 2020, 202,300 families and individuals in England were experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. This analysis showed that, without concerted government effort, we could see 246,200 households facing the worst forms of homelessness, including sleeping on our streets, sofa-surfing or being stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation, by 2031 – a 22% rise from current figures. This work attracted national media coverage, including in The Times, The Sun, The Guardian and The Big Issue. See more in this blog by Francesca Albanese, Head of Research and Evaluation, Crisis.

Homelessness Monitor

Over the period we continued to work on the groundbreaking Homelessness Monitor Series for Crisis, with the latest edition of the Monitor for England launched last month.  You can find full details at  The Homelessness Monitor: England 2021 | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness.

Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes presented the Monitor analysis of statutory and core homelessness trends, and COVID-19 responses by local authorities, to the first meeting of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping on 26th March 2021.

COVID- 19 Crisis Responses

In February Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Dr Beth Watts and Dr Jenny Wood, along with I-SPHERE Honorary Research Fellow Dr Peter Mackie and Honorary I-SPHERE Professor Hal Pawson, published our initial ESRC-supported report on The COVID-19 crisis response to homelessness in Great Britain : CaCHE (housingevidence.ac.uk)

I-SPHERE’s Suzanne Fitzpatrick also contributed to a report led by Honorary Professor Hal Pawson on the impact of the pandemic on rental housing and homelessness in Australia. The report was featured in articles in the Conversation and The Guardian.

The Ruling Parties’ Record on Homelessness and Complex Needs (May 2015 to pre-COVID 2020)

Professors Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Glen Bramley produced this research paper as part of a major research programme Social policies and distributional outcomes in a changing Britain Programme funded by the Nuffield Foundation and led by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics in partnership with research teams atI-SPHERE, the University of Manchester and UCL Institute for Education.

A Bed Every Night

In March we published the summary report of our evaluation of Greater Manchester’s A Bed Every Night Programme by Dr Beth Watts and Lynne McMordie with Melissa Espinoza, Dora Welker and Prof. Sarah Johnsen. You can also read about the lessons learnt from the initiative in Dr Beth Watt’s Blog post.

Impact of COVID-19 on Scottish family poverty

In November, Professor Morag Treanor’s evaluation of Aberlour’s Covid 19 Urgent Assistance Fund highlighted the impact of Covid 19 on Scottish family poverty.

Young People Food Insecurity and Covid 19

In November we published new research by Dr Charlotte McPherson, on how the Covid-19 pandemic has both worsened and laid bare young people’s enhanced risks of experiencing food insecurity. Charlotte was our fourth I-SPHERE and Oak Foundation research intern.  Her research was featured in an article in The Conversation and Charlotte presented a seminar on her findings in February that you can watch again here.

Homelessness and Health

Professor Sarah Johnsen and Dr Janice Blenkinsopp published an open access paper with the University of Edinburgh’s Dr Fiona Cuthill on ‘Outreach-based clinical pharmacist prescribing input into the healthcare of people experiencing homelessness: a qualitative investigation’ in BMC Health Services Research.

Homeless People’s Capabilities

Dr Beth Watts and Dr Janice Blenkinsopp’s paper Valuing Control over One’s Immediate Living Environment: How Homelessness Responses Corrode Capabilities was published with open access in the journal Housing Theory and Society.


New Research Projects

Professor Morag Treanor has been successful in winning prestigious funding from the Nuffield foundation to explore Digital Exclusion in Education. The project uses data from a national online e-learning service (SCHOLAR) covering 97% of publicly-funded secondary schools in Scotland. This developmental project will analyse SCHOLAR data to investigate patterns of digital inequalities for young people across Scotland in relation to school and area socio-economic status, as measured by free school meal registration and area deprivation. The project duration is 1 February 2021 until 31 July 2022.  For further information, see the section on our website – Digital Exclusion in Education – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)


Book Launch – Poverty in Scotland 2021: towards a 2030 without poverty

Join us on Friday 23rd April at 10am for an online discussion and debate on Poverty in Scotland 2021, the latest in a series of books published by Child Poverty in Action Group (CPAG) in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University SPIRU and WiSE Centre, The Poverty Alliance and I-SPHERE. Professor Morag Treanor is a co-editor. Register your attendance here.


Media highlights

Here are some recent articles, media pieces and blogs featuring I-SPHERE that you may want to read, watch or listen again to.



The I-SPHERE team have also presented at an array of events, some selected highlights include:

  • Dr Beth Watts and Lynne McMordie presented at the Housing Studies Association (HSA) 2021 conference and papers were presented by our PHD researchers Lynne McMordie, Olly Bowling and Katie Colliver.
  • Dr Jenny Wood presented on Child Friendly planning to the Royal Town Planning Institute conference
  • In partnership with The Oak Foundation and UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CACHE), I-SPHERE held a workshop for organisations on where to start with commissioning research and evaluation
  • Professor Sarah Johnsen gave a plenary presentation on Housing First at both Homeless Link’s annual conference and the Turning Point Scotland conference
  • Professor Morag Treanor presented a showcase for Administrative Data Research UK on her work linking Scottish child data
  • Dr Beth Watts participated in the New System Alliance debate on how we can bring about a paradigm shift in how we approach homelessness
  • I-SPHERE team members have been presenting the interim findings of the Institute of Global Homelessness ‘Ending Street Homelessness in Vanguard Cities’ research to stakeholders in the Vanguard Cities across the globe including Sydney, Glasgow and Tshwane (Pretoria) and are now working on the second round of data collection.


Seminar Programme

I-SPHERE have hosted some fantastic seminars over the last few months on thought provoking subjects with excellent speakers such as:

You can watch our seminars again  here.

Our programme for Spring and Summer includes:

  • Wednesday 21st April at 3.45pm, I-SPHERE PhD Researcher Melissa Espinoza will present her research on ‘Compromising capabilities: a case study on Indigenous peoples rough sleeping experiences in Seattle, USA’.
  • Wednesday 19th May, Dr Craig M. Gurney from the University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Science (Urban Studies), will present on the social harm perspective from critical criminology in an analysis of the threefold associations between inequality, housing and health.
  • Wednesday 10th June, Aveek Bhattacharya, PhD researcher with LSE ‘When and why might choice in public services have intrinsic (dis)value?’

Click here for the full seminar programme and joining instructions.


Staff News

In January, Dr Patricio Troncoso joined I-SPHERE as research associate working with Professor Morag Treanor on Understanding children’s lives and outcomes strand of the ESRC-funded Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR). Patricio joined us from Manchester University where he undertook statistical analysis on research for the Education Endowment Foundation.

In December, our fifth Oak Foundation research intern, Amy Bristow, joined the team.  Amy’s research on how planning policy can best be deployed to address racial inequalities related to housing in England is already well underway and we look forward to sharing the findings in due course.


PhD News

Our fantastic PhD researcher Lynne McMordie won the prestigious Valerie Karn prize in October.  Lynne McMordie presented a seminar for Focus Ireland on her research ‘Avoidance Strategies: Stress, Appraisal and Coping in Hostel Accommodation’.

Congratulations to Katie Colliver for completing her PhD and publishing her excellent thesis Understanding distribution in homelessness policy: A normative exploration of the differential treatment of homeless households in England, Scotland and Wales.

More information

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You can also sign up to our mailing list and find out more about the I-SPHERE team at www.i-sphere.hw.ac.uk