I-SPHERE Newsletter

This newsletter provides a round-up of what the I-SPHERE team have been up to over the Summer and Autumn and what is coming up this winter.

Appointments and Reviews

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick was appointed to Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness Advisory Board.  The Advisory Board is made up of experts from public health, social policy, housing and the built environment and will support the work of the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness: a unique collaboration that aims to eradicate homelessness in the city.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick was part of the founding board for the new International Journal on Homelessness and will act as joint Editor-in-Chief for Europe, reinforcing Heriot-Watt’s position as a research leader in the field of global homelessness   Suzanne stated “Adding a globally focused, open access journal is a significant next step in the international collaborative efforts to end homelessness worldwide. By working together and sharing research and best practice in this way, we can make a real and permanent difference to people’s lives across continents.”  The first edition of the publication was launched on 2nd November and is available at Vol. 1 No. 1 (2021) | International Journal on Homelessness (uwo.ca)

Professor Morag Treanor was nominated to become a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr Beth Watts was appointed Heriot Watt Academic Lead for Public Engagement. 

Scottish Government is due to start consultation next month on new homelessness prevention duties informed by the recommendations in Preventing Homelessness in Scotland, the group chaired by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick.

New Research

Homelessness and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups in the UK: A knowledge and capacity building programme.

Funded by the Oak Foundation and in partnership with Race on the Agenda, this major knowledge and capacity building programme will propel a fundamental step change in the UK evidence base on homelessness amongst people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. 

Overseen by an expert research advisory group, the programme will offer a comprehensive, authoritative account of the overall statistical picture alongside rich qualitative evidence offering a ‘deep dive’ into key groups, issues and experience of concerns.  All of this with a view to shaping priorities, tools and levers for intervention that can be used to eliminate racial discrimination, disparities and injustices in the homelessness and housing field.   

In addition, the programme seeks to train and equip a new cohort of early career BAME researchers to drive forward progressive knowledge generation and policy and practice change in this field, and to establish and strengthen partnerships that can effectively communicate and advocate for change. 

We are currently recruiting the first of three Research Interns to join the team.  The paid 9 month internship is an amazing opportunity for early career researchers to run their own research project which can shine a light on issues of race in housing and homelessness policy and practice and bring forward recommendations for change.  See more at BAME Homelessness Research Intern – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk) and please spread the word.

CRISIS Homelessness Monitor

I-SPHERE are delighted to be continuing to work for Crisis on the Homelessness Monitor Series with a new contract in place for 2021-2026.  The study will monitor homelessness trends and their drivers in Great Britain from 2021-2026. It will take forward the economic, policy and trends analysis and projections advanced in Monitor reports to date, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its longer-term economic and policy impacts, in addition to wider policy and legal changes relevant to homelessness. It will, crucially track progress and help hold governments across Great Britain to account on their progress towards ending homelessness.  Two monitor reports will be produced annually.  You can find out more about the homelessness monitor at Homelessness Monitor | Crisis UK | Together we will end homelessness

Scottish Centre for Administrative Research

Professor Morag Treanor’s has secured funding from the ESRC for the next phase of research (2022-26) for the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research examining child life outcomes.  The research aims to maximise the use of existing data to understand children’s lives, and to undertake research regarding the rights and wellbeing of children, including in relation to their family life, their health, education, and the economic conditions in which they grow up.  This funding includes the work of I-SPHERE Research Associate Dr Patricio Troncoso.  Find out more at Understanding children’s lives and outcomes | SCADR

Recent Reports

Homelessness Monitor

I-SPHERE continued to deliver the ground-breaking Homelessness Monitor Research series for Crisis with the latest reports for Scotland and Wales published this Autumn.

The Scotland 2021 Monitor Report, published in September found:

  • Statutory homelessness had been on a steadily rising trajectory pre pandemic, with the number of households assessed as legally homeless having grown by 10% in the period 2016/17-2019/20. The pandemic year 2020/21 saw a year-on-year fall in statutory homeless acceptances of 13% (to 27,571), and 20% in the first quarter of 2020/21 (April-June) compared to the previous quarter.  
  • The number of households in temporary accommodation had been at a stable high of 10-11,000 for the decade up until March 2019. In March 2021, the numbers in temporary accommodation stood at over 13,000, well above the previous peak of 11,665 a year previously. 
  • The rate of ‘core homelessness’, which includes people rough sleeping, using unsuitable temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, sofa surfing or sleeping in garages or industrial premises, was almost twice as high in England than in Scotland. Overall, 0.94% of households in England were experiencing a form of core homelessness, compared with 0.66% in Wales and 0.57% in Scotland, with the report identifying Scottish homelessness and housing policy as one cause of lower rates.

The research was covered in media stories on TV (including STV (and ITV) News) in national newspapers (including the Daily Mail, the Herald, the Scotsman, the National the Evening Standard, the Glasgow Evening Times, the Metro, the Edinburgh Evening News) on online news (including Yahoo News, MSN news, and Scottish Housing News)  as well as a good number of local papers and radio coverage. More information at The Scotland Homelessness 2021 | Crisis UK

The Wales 2021 Monitor Report, published on 24th November found:

  • The first year of the pandemic saw a continuation of the pre-COVID-19 trend of rising homelessness demand. Local authority prevention and relief cases grew by 19% in the three years to 2019/20 and15 of 22 Welsh councils reported a year-on-year increase in 2020/21.
  • The most effective policies for reducing core homelessness are Rapid Rehousing, accompanied by social housing allocation quotas for homeless households; maximising prevention efforts, including more use of private renting and financial/debt assistance; and raising the level of the Local Housing Allowance and indexing it effectively to private rent levels.
  • The actions taken by the Welsh Government to assist people at risk of homelessness, and especially sleeping rough, during the COVID-19 pandemic were widely praised by research participants. A combination of unequivocal guidance (including with respect to people with No Recourse to Public Funds), substantial additional funds and high-level political commitment, were viewed as pivotal to the effectiveness of these interventions.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick said: The Wales Homelessness Monitor shows that interventions targeting homelessness during the pandemic were highly effective at making sure the many people experiencing or at risk of homelessness had somewhere safe to stay. But our research also illustrates that the economic aftermath of the pandemic risks an immediate rise in levels of homelessness. Looking forward we must build on the positive work happening in Wales through the current Programme for Government and five-year Action Plan to make sure the Covid-19 crisis doesn’t lead to increased levels of homelessness, and that we achieve long lasting change.”

The report is being presented at an online launch event on December 9th at 10.30 AM, as part of the Cymorth Cymru homelessness symposium, sponsored by Crisis. To find out more or register to attend, click here.

More information at The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2021 | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness

The Technical Report supporting the core homelessness estimates and projections for both Scotland and Wales, contained within the recently published Homelessness Monitors for those two countries, has been published by HWU:

Research on core homelessness and homeless projections: Technical report on the new baseline estimates and scenario projections for Scotland and Wales — Heriot-Watt Research Portal (hw.ac.uk)

Impact of Homelessness on EU Citizens

I-SPHERE research with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) for Crisis published earlier this month revealed people from EU countries living in Britain are nearly three times more likely to experience rough sleeping than the general adult population. They are also twice as likely to experience homelessness overall because they struggle to access support.

The project is the first of its kind to explore the scale, causes and impact of homelessness experienced by people from the European Economic Area (EEA) who have made their home in Britain.

Professor Glen Bramley said: It is particularly striking that large numbers of people have come from EEA countries and made a major working contribution to our economy and society yet are now experiencing homelessness. They’re in situations where they’re getting little or no financial support from the state or anywhere else, having previously often endured insecure and exploitative work conditions.”


Housing First Scotland

In September the Interim report of the Housing First Pathfinder Programme was published.  The report documents the key achievements, challenges and lessons learned during the design, mobilisation, and early implementation phases of the Pathfinder programme which is rolling out Housing First across 6 local authority areas in Scotland.  Key findings included:

  • Excellent tenancy sustainment rates for people with multiple and complex needs. At the end of June 2021, 531 people had been housed, the12-month tenancy sustainment rate was 84% and 24-month tenancy sustainment rate was 82%.  
  • Overall service users had positive experiences with some describing the effects on their lives as transformational.
  • Readiness for large scale roll out.

Read more by report authors Professor Sarah Johnsen and Dr Janice Blenkinsopp here Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder evaluation interim report publication – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)

Meeting the housing needs of BAME households in England: the role of the planning system

Research by I-SPHERE and Oak Foundation Research Intern Amy Bristow found the planning process in England is reinforcing racial inequality. The report found professionals lack the confidence, skills and resources required to actively address racial inequality in housing, perpetuating socially conservative outcomes and limiting opportunities for achieving racial equality.  It provides a series of recommendations for the sector.  The research has attracted media attention and has been featured in professional publications including Housing Quality Magazine and profiled as part of the CaCHE tackling inequalities campaign.https://hqnetwork.co.uk/hqm/ You can also watch Amy present a seminar on the findings here Amy Bristow seminar.mp4 (dropbox.com) Read the report here Meeting the housing needs of BAME households in England: the role of the planning system – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)

The State of Hunger

Back in May I-SPHERE’s second report on The State of Hunger for the Trussell Trust was published highlighting statistics and experiences of accessing foodbanks going into the pandemic.  It highlighted that early in 202095% of people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network were living in ‘destitution’.  See more at State of Hunger – The Trussell Trust

A Bed Every Night Manchester

The full evaluation report of Greater Manchester’s A Bed Every Night programme: An independent evaluation (Full Report) — Heriot-Watt Research Portal (hw.ac.uk) was also published in May with Lynne McMordie subsequently presenting evaluation results to a group of local authorities, service providers, Greater Manchester stakeholders and MHCLG representatives.

Recent Journal Articles and books

Poverty in Scotland

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) Poverty in Scotland 2021 book of which Professor Morag Treanor was a co-editor has been made freely available online at https://askcpag.org.uk/publications/-231001/poverty-in-scotland-202

Accommodation-based interventions for individuals experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick contributed to the Campbell systematic review on accommodation-based interventions, published in May. The review found: “Those interventions which are described as Basic/Unconditional (i.e., those that only satisfy very basic human needs such as a bed and food) harm people: meaning they had worse health and housing stability outcomes even when compared to receiving nothing at all. This invites questions on whether these types of accommodation-based interventions should be discontinued so that other more suitable and effective offers of support can be made available.”

Read more at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cl2.1165

The Prevalence and Nature of Violence Against Women Experiencing Homelessness: A Quantitative Study 

Dr Beth Watts’ article with Fran Calvo, our 2019 I-SPHERE visiting scholar was published by SAGE, read it here –  The Prevalence and Nature of Violence Against Women Experiencing Homelessness: A Quantitative Study – Fran Calvo, Beth Watts, Sonia Panadero, Cristina Giralt, Mercè Rived-Ocaña, Xavier Carbonell, 2021 (sagepub.com) 

Faith, values, and metaphysical positionality in qualitative research

Professor Sarah Johnsen and Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick’s paper on Faith, values, and metaphysical positionality in qualitative research was published in August at https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tran.12487

Charting the Rough Journey to ‘Home’: The Contribution of Qualitative Longitudinal Research to Understandings of Homelessness in Austerity

Professor Sarah Johnsen’s article with Emma Davidson, and Briege Nugent was published in Social Policy and Society the-contribution-of-qualitative-longitudinal-research-to-understandings-of-homelessness-in-austerity/8D7EE98A35732A67BA02930773707726

Improving multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH) services: frontline worker responses to insecure attachment style

This article by Nikoletta Theodorou, Professor Sarah Johnsen, Dr Beth Watts and Adam Burley has been published in The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice  

Advancing a Five-Level Typology of Homelessness Prevention

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick’s article with Peter Mackie and Jenny Wood was published in the first edition of the new International Journal on Homelessness. https://ojs.lib.uwo.ca/index.php/ijoh/article/view/13341

Other Publication and Media Highlights

Read Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick’s blog for the Robertson Trust on building on the momentum of our Hard Edges https://www.therobertsontrust.org.uk/news-and-blogs/christieplus10-building-on-the-momentum-of-hard-edges-scotland/.

I-SPHERES’s Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick and  Dr Beth Watt’s paper with Professor Hal Pawson on  The limits of localism: a decade of disaster on homelessness in England  featured in a Policy and Politics Special Issue and associated blog  https://policyandpoliticsblog.com/2021/06/09/virtual-issue-on-central-local-relations/

Suzanne and Dennis Culhane’s article ‘How sharing international insights can help advance progress on ending homelessness for good’ was published by The Centre for Homelessness Impact


The I-SPHERE team have been involved in a vast range of events and meetings over the period.  Here are just a few highlights:

  • Professor Morag Treanor delivered workshops on poverty and education to Scottish Deputy Headteachers on the ‘Into Headship’ qualification.
  • Dr Beth Watts participated in the Social Policy Association (SPA) Housing Policy Group workshop, focusing on the COVID pandemic, and what this tells us about housing inequality. Meet our SPA Policy Groups – Social Policy Association (social-policy.org.uk)
  • Dr Beth Watts and Sam Thomas presented at the Homeless Network Scotland conference on the role of ‘Shared Spaces’ in Scotland’s transforming homelessness response and on capabilities as a way of thinking about choice.
  • Suzanne Fitzpatrick presented at House of Commons MP Tribune meeting on the Crisis/Joseph Rowntree Foundation-funded “Homelessness Monitor” series, Destitution in the UK and wider issues of poverty and inequality
  • Dr Beth Watts and Professor Glen Bramley presented to a special meeting of the Scottish Government Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan sub-group in November, to discuss the finding of the Scotland homelessness monitor. Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans sub-group – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
  • Dr Beth Watts provided both written and oral evidence on homelessness and rough sleeping to the Scottish Parliament Social Justice and Social Security Committee. Social Justice and Social Security Committee | Scottish Parliament Website
  • Professor Morag Treanor presented a seminar for the Child Poverty Action Group in Wales and was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland responding to Scottish Government’s Child Poverty response. Good Morning Scotland – 24/06/2021 – BBC Sounds

Seminar Programme

Over the Spring and Autumn, we had some fantastic presentations and debate as part of the I-SPHERE seminar series.  You can watch presentations again via our website including: Lynne McMordie and Oliver Bowling, I-SPHERE PhD students presentations on Temporary accommodation and begging in the UK; Amy Bristow, I-SPHERE and Oak intern on her research on The role of planning in meeting the needs of BAME households in England;  Aveek Bhattacharyra  on When and why might public services have instrinsic disvalue; Craig Gurney from the Univesrity of Glasgow on Applying the social harm perspective to inequality, housing and health.

Coming up in 2022:

On 19th January we will welcome Lucie Woellenstein, University of Edinburgh – Use of machine learning in homelessness studies.

On 9th February, Dr Hannah Carver from the University of Stirling will present on Problem substance use and homelessness in the UK.

Full details of our programme and how to sign up for our free seminars is at Seminars – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)

Team News

Over the period we have bid farewells to Jenny Wood, Filip Sosenko and Dan Hope and welcomed Lynne McMordie as Research Associate. 

We are also delighted to announce the appointment of I-SPHERE Honorary Professors Cameron Parsell, Gillian Young, and Pete Mackie and find out more about all our Honorary Professors and Research Fellows – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)

PhD News

Interested in a PHD with I-SPHERE or know someone who might be?

 We are recruiting for new PHD students. There are opportunities for self -funded, employer funded PhDs and the potential of scholarships through Carnegie Trust, James Watt (HWU-funded), and the ESRC via the SGSSS.  See our website for more info and contact a member of the team for a chat,

PhD Programme – I-SPHERE (hw.ac.uk)  

Further information

For all our latest news follow us on Twitter @ISPHERE_HWU

See our website  www.i-sphere.site.hw.ac.uk

You can also sign up to or opt out of our mailing list to receive email newsletters by contacting j.mcintyre@hw.ac.uk

Until next time, best wishes from the I-SPHERE team for a happy and healthy winter and holiday period.