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Evidencing the social work role within responses to multiple exclusion homelessness


This 2022 project is led by Jess Harris and funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR). It builds on the emerging findings of a larger SSCR-funded Unit study focussing on strengthening Adult Safeguarding responses to homelessness and self-neglect. One recommendation from the study is the importance of the specialist homelessness social worker role, especially when integrated into homelessness teams as part of day-to-day responses to multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH). The study has evidenced inconsistent and often inadequate responses to MEH where social workers do not have expertise in and/or are not an accessible component of homelessness outreach working. Those social workers who are striving to drive good practice are often isolated and unsupported in their work.

The 2022 NICE guideline on ‘Integrated health and social care for people experiencing homelessness’ ( raised the profile of the specialist social work role, but stated: No effectiveness evidence was identified on the role of adult social work, and safeguarding in particular, in an integrated response to the needs of people experiencing homelessness (p70). This project will help to develop this evidence in order to drive improved responses, and so address inequalities in support for one of the most marginalised communities within society.


The project will use a case study approach within one study site where there is a specialist social worker role to explore the added value that an embedded social worker within a homelessness outreach team may bring to locality approaches to homelessness, including direct practice (undertaking Care Act 2014, Mental Capacity and Adult Safeguarding assessments), and indirect activity (advising colleagues and building the capacity of non-specialist practitioners). Case study interviews at the site will be complemented by interviews with other homelessness social workers across England, to further explore the experiences, impact and the support needs of the role.

Related work in homelessness


The final report was published in November 2023 - see below under Outputs.


The Homelessness Social Worker role - challenges & impact - 20 July 2023, 10:00 to 11:00

Our Partners


NIHR School for Social Care Research

Project status: Completed