Overdose Prevention Centres – lessons from abroad

Carolin HessCarolin Hess is a PhD student in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce who has been awarded Doctoral funding from the NIHR School for Social Care Research. (701 words)

Over 280 participants joined Ben Scher, a PhD candidate in Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford and outreach worker at St. Mungo’s, for the latest webinar of the HSCWRU Homelessness series on how low-barrier drug interventions can reach people experiencing homelessness and drug-related harms. Presenting findings of his doctoral project, which compares the lived experience of street-based drug dependency based on people’s access to low-barrier overdose prevention centres (OPC) across sites in Vancouver (Canada), Birmingham (UK), and Athens (Greece), he provided ethnographic evidence on the effectiveness and feasibility of implementing OPCs.

OPCs are “safer consumption spaces” where drug consumption is monitored by medically-trained professionals. Substantial observational evidence across the 15 countries currently operating OPCs has demonstrated how these centres can be successful in preventing fatal overdoses, reducing risk of blood borne diseases, and increasing safer injecting practices and engagement with substance treatment services. Continue reading

Tracing the significance of executive functioning among people experiencing homelessness

Carolin Hess is a PhD student in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce who has been awarded Doctoral funding from the NIHR School for Social Care Research, commencing February 2023. (896 words)

Carolin Hess

In the latest webinar in the HSCWRU Homelessness series, 225 participants joined Ellie Atkins, a senior social worker and Safeguarding lead, for a presentation which asked, What does research and expert practice tell us about the importance of executive functioning assessments? The topic builds on themes from last month’s webinar, exploring mechanisms of agency and choice, and how self-neglect among homeless populations can be addressed by strengthening safeguarding responses.

The presentation opened with the question of why the Everyone In Initiative, a £3.2 million emergency fund set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to house people in the UK who were rough sleeping, did not end rough sleeping for all individuals. The scheme was widely hailed as a success, with organisations praising the unprecedented effort and rapid response to homelessness through increased partnership working and communication, which supported over 30,000 people into accessing accommodation. Continue reading

Agency and choice in multiple exclusion homelessness

Carolin Hess is a PhD student at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. (583 words)

Carolin HessAs part of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce Homelessness Series, Research Fellow at the Unit, Jess Harris, and Stan Burridge (public contributor) recently presented ‘lived experience’ perspectives from the emerging findings of an NIHR School for Social Care Research funded national study of homelessness, self-neglect, and safeguarding. The event, held on 25 April, was attended by over 180 people.

In light of a recent report that revealed that 1313 people died while homeless (including people sleeping rough, in emergency or other insecure settings) in the UK during 2022, an 85% increase on the number recorded in 2019, the research could not be more timely.

Bringing together the voices of multi-disciplinary practitioners and people with lived experience, the study findings highlight the complexities of safeguarding but also offer suggestions on how to strengthen safeguarding responses and more effectively support people who face multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH). Continue reading