It has long been acknowledged that some homeless people have complex support needs which go well beyond lack of a home, but the scale and nature of these needs was not well understood. In a series of linked projects, I-SPHERE has undertaken substantial qualitative and quantitative research that has demonstrated significant overlap between the adult offender, substance misusing and (single) homeless populations, and also the interrelationship between this form of ‘severe and multiple disadvantage’ and other complex issues such as mental ill-health, domestic violence and abuse,  and poverty. Our research has further established that the most extreme forms of severe and multiple disadvantage are heavily concentrated in areas of the country affected by long-term economic decline, and that the great majority of those affected have also endured ‘adverse childhood experiences’.

The table provides a summary of key recent research projects in this field.  For publications see our Publications section.

TitleAboutDatesFunderLead Researcher(s)Link
Educational exclusions and absencesThis project examines the variation between schools and local authorities in their policies and practice in relation to temporary exclusions and authorised/unauthorised absences; the role of family circumstances including material poverty and associated factors (e.g. unemployment, disability) on exclusions and absences; the impact of absences and exclusions on young people’s educational outcomes and post-school destinations.2021-2023SCADRMorag TreanorFurther Information
Qualitative study of women’s experiences of severe and multiple disadvantageBuilding upon I-SPHERE’s ‘Hard Edges’ reports and recent gendered profile of severe and multiple disadvantage (SMD), this project will seek women’s views on the effectiveness and timing of service interventions intended to prevent, ameliorate and/or resolve SMD.2021-2023Oak FoundationSarah Johnsen
Digital Exclusion in EducationThe 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.2021-2022Nuffield FoundationMorag TreanorFurther Information
Impact of COVID-19 on Scottish family povertyThis evaluation of Aberlour’s Covid 19 Urgent Assistance Fund highlighted the impact of Covid 19 on Scottish family poverty.2020AberlourMorag TreanorFurther Information
Gender MattersFollowing on from Hard Edges, this study set out to establish the statistical profile of women affected by severe and multiple disadvantage in England.2019Lankelly Chase FoundationSarah Johnsen, Glen Bramley and Filip SosenkoFull Report
Housing First EvaluationHeriot Watt is involved in a collaborative evaluation, led by ICF consulting, of the Housing First Pilots in England for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.2018-2022Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local GovernmentSarah Johnsen
The Housing First Scotland Pathfinder projectThe Housing First Scotland Pathfinder project represents a significant development in the expansion of Housing First (HF) provision across Scotland within the context of a broader policy shift toward rapid rehousing by default. Funded by Social Bite and Scottish Government, the programme is being managed by Corra Foundation. It has involved the development of five Pathfinder Projects covering six local authority areas over a two-year period: Glasgow – 300; Edinburgh – at least 50 and up to 275; Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire – 120; Dundee – 100; Stirling – 20. In each, a consortium of service providers has been commissioned to deliver housing and wrap-around support for homeless people with complex needs. The research aims to document project outcomes, costs and operational lessons learned during the Pathfinder Project.2018-2021Corra FoundationSarah Johnsen
Homelessness and destitution in Newcastle – Exploring the role of the ‘local state’ in the context of austerity and welfare reformThis study aims to illuminate how Newcastle’s ‘local state’ (NCC and key partners) has responded to the combined welfare reform, austerity and homelessness prevention challenges to date, and to consider how local policy and resources might best be deployed to address these challenges in the years ahead.2018-2019Newcastle City CouncilBeth WattsFull Report
Housing supply requirements across Great Britain for low-income households and homeless peopleThe project examines the scale of additional housing needed across England, Scotland and Wales, with particular emphasis on meeting the housing requirements of low income households and homeless people. The research highlights the current need (including backlog of need) and future housing requirements across the entire market, with focus on the need for housing products which are accessible and affordable to households at the sub market level.2018, 2020National Housing Federation and CrisisGlen BramleyFull Report
Centre for Homelessness Impact – evidence map of process evaluations of homelessness interventions The Centre for Homelessness Impact commissioned Heriot Watt to develop an evidence map of what works.
The Evidence and Gap Maps bring together evidence on homelessness interventions from around the world to highlight where evidence does or doesn’t exist on what works and why they work or not. It is designed to help target research investments faster and in a more strategic, impactful way.
2018Centre for Homelessness ImpactGap Maps
Hard Edges Scotland Developing a profile of severe and multiple disadvantage with supplementary case studiesHard Edges Scotland commissioned by Lankelly Chase and The Robertson Trust highlights the complexity of the lives of people facing multiple disadvantage north of the border. It also details the challenges that charitable services and the public sector are facing. In particular, the report illustrates the mismatch between the multiple disadvantages people face and the fact that services are often set up to address ‘single issues’.2018Lankelly Chase Foundation Robertson TrustSuzanne FitzpatrickFull Report
The Alternatives For Including Non-household Populations In Estimates Of Personal Well-being And DestitutionThis project is to look at alternative ways in which “non-household” populations can be counted in measures of living standards and personal well-being.2018Office of National StatisticsGlen BramleyWorking Paper
Qualitative pilot evaluation of pharmacist input into clinical care of homeless peopleThis qualitative study assessed homeless people’s perceptions and personal experiences of dedicated clinical (prescribing) pharmacist input into their clinical care.2017-2019NHSSarah JohnsenFull Report
Eradicating ‘Core Homelessness’ in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen: Providing and Evidence BaseThe research provides an evidence base for the disbursement of an estimated £4 million to relevant service provider organisations in Scotland’s four largest cities to work towards the eradication of the most extreme forms of homelessness.2017-2018Social BiteBeth WattsFull Report
Ending Rough Sleeping – What WorksThe existing evidence base on the effectiveness of interventions with rough sleepers is piecemeal and scattered with key findings far from accessible to policy makers. For this reason Crisis commissioned this review of the existing international evidence base.2017CrisisSarah JohnsenFull Report
Time for ChangeAn evaluation of Shelter Scotland’s Time for Change project based in Dundee which aimed to establish and train volunteer peer mentors with lived experience of multiple and complex needs to assist homeless people to access and engage with services. The report evaluates the impact on volunteers and those helped and assessed effectiveness of the model as a mechanism for sustainable change.2017Shelter Scotland The Scottish Government via the Eurpoean Social Fund’s Social Innovation FundSarah JohnsenFull Report
Hard Edges: Developing a profile of severe and multiple disadvantage in EnglandHard Edges provided a statistical profile of severe and multiple disadvantage in England for adults involved in the homelessness, substance misuse and criminal justice systems. Through interrogation of a range of data sets it estimates the numbers of people living with different combinations of problems, their demographic and geographic profile. The report identified strong links to poverty and mental ill-health amongst the SMD group and examined underlying causes, circumstances and triggers for people’s pathways in and out of the homelessness, substance misuse and criminal justice systems.2012-2015Lankelly Chase FoundationSuzanne FitzpatrickFull Report
Homelessness MonitorThe Homelessness monitor is a longditudinal study commissioned by Crisis and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The monitor defines ‘core’ and ‘wider’ homelessness and measures the scale of these phenomena for England, Wales and Scotland, as well as forecasting future trends. It examines the impact of policy and legislation on homelessness across the UK.2011-2021CrisisGlen Bramley and Suzanne FitzpatrickFurther Information