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13 January 2022

Safeguarding and homelessness – hearing the voices of those involved

Using Communities of Practice to further research aims

Abstract motif representing community

The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce today publishes a Communities of Practice Report from its project examining safeguarding responses to homelessness and self-neglect.

Communities of Practice bring together people who share a concern and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this topic by taking part in a series of encounters. In this case, as part of a study funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research, researchers arranged online meetings between people who had experience of homelessness and practitioners in this field, along with managers of relevant organisations.

Aside from the ‘experts by experience’, participants included practitioners and managers from across local statutory and independent sector organisations such as Police, Probation, Prisons, Housing, Rough Sleeper Street Outreach, NHS Trust and local authority Safeguarding, Adult Social Care, Mental Health, providers of Homelessness accommodation, Health Care and Substance Misuse support.

The researchers / facilitators at the meetings were Bruno Ornelas (of homelessness organisation Concrete), and Jess Harris and Michelle Cornes (NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King's).

The six-page document published today is a synopsis of the views of participants expressed over the course of twelve sessions. Arguably, use of the Community of Practice approach in a study such as this embeds the potential for social change in the research project itself – well before the moment formal research findings are reported. Alongside the sessions, the project has been running a qualitative interview study, the transcripts from which are presently being analysed, and an economic investigation. The project ends in September 2022.

This publication

Harris, J. (Ed.) (2022) Safeguarding Responses to Homelessness and Self-Neglect Communities of Practice Report: Key messages emerging from conversations in research study sites, London: NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London. 

Project page: Opening the "too difficult box": Strengthening adult safeguarding responses to homelessness and self-neglect

See also

Communities of Practice in this field (and a consideration of their usefulness) were a core part of an earlier study led by Dr Michelle Cornes.

Martineau, S. J., Cornes, M., Manthorpe, J., Ornelas, B., & Fuller, J. (2019) Safeguarding, homelessness and rough sleeping: An analysis of Safeguarding Adults Reviews, London: NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London.

Publications and presentations from the Local Government Association initiative in this area, for example from 2020 and 2021.

In this story

Bruno Ornelas

Rough Sleeping Adviser, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Jess Harris

Research Fellow

Michelle Cornes

Visiting Professorial Fellow