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16 October 2020

King's researcher awarded UKRI Fellowship to tackle major health inequalities for people who are homeless

Dr Andy Guise has been selected as one of UKRI’s Future Leaders and will receive significant support to develop a new response to the social stigma that leads to the exclusion of people who are homeless from care and support.

andrew guise

Homelessness is a growing challenge in the UK and London. Homelessness has a severe impact on people's health and in England, the average age of death of someone rough sleeping is 43 for women and 45 for men.

The causes of these extreme health inequalities are complex, but stigma is a central issue that stops many people from seeking care and means that they can receive poor quality care and support if they do. Dr Andy Guise will be using his UKRI Fellowship to focus on preventing this social stigma.

Stigma is a persistent barrier for people who are homeless and we don't know enough about the complex social causes to respond. With this fellowship, we can develop a new intervention and ensure social science plays a key role in public health responses.

Dr Andy Guise, School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences

Stigma is an issue across health care, but also the welfare and other support systems that people rely on. Importantly, the stigma across these separate areas are linked; for instance, problems with benefits can cause problems with health care access. Preventing stigma could therefore improve the health of people who are homeless, as well as their welfare and housing circumstances.

A focus for the research will be an in-depth study on stigma in South London. Dr Guise will be working with colleagues from King’s, Groundswell, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Southwark Public Health, including researchers who have experience of homelessness themselves, to develop a new complex intervention across the many systems that cause stigma. The team will spend time with people who are homeless to understand their experiences and also study the systems that support them (or stigmatise them). The study findings will then be used to co-design a new intervention in response.

To help people outside of London and develop a more comprehensive explanation of the complex systems behind homelessness stigma, the team will also be working closely with researchers in Canada and the USA.

Throughout the research, we will work closely with people who are homeless, policymakers and the general public. This close public engagement will help us ensure we are responding to the needs people have, but also to make people aware of our findings to ensure the study has a positive impact on people's lives, health and welfare

Dr Andy Guise, School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences

About UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK.

The fellows, based at UK universities and businesses, will be supported through an investment of £109m, of which Dr Andy Guise has been awarded £771k. The support will enable each fellow to tackle ambitious and challenging research and innovation and develop their careers.

For more information, please visit UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowship.

In this story

Andrew Guise

Senior lecturer in Social Science and Health