In December 2019, Shelter identified that there were 135,000 children living homeless in temporary accommodation across Britain, with a child becoming homeless every 8 minutes, and 183 becoming homeless every day.

This was the highest recorded number of children who are homeless in 12 years, after a steep rise of 51 % in the prior 5 years (Shelter, 2019).

Families in temporary accommodation endure many challenges and awful conditions (Children’s Commissioner, 2019), which are known impact on both the physical and mental health of both children and adults, both immediately and in the long-term, with the impact starting when children are babies (NSPCC, 2015).

The QNI believes that specialist Health Visiting posts are essential to provide the expert support that these families need. A description of the specialist Health Visitor role is provided by Debbie Fawcett, Queen’s Nurses here.  The QNI currently runs a networking group for specialist Health Visitors and other professionals working with homeless families. The group aims to support Health Visitors in their work, and to throw a light on the plight of homeless families.

The group hosted a visit from Dr Yvonne Parry, visiting Paediatric Nurse, researcher and senior lecturer from Australia in 2019. In 2020, the group wrote a letter to the Ministers of Health, Housing and the Home Office regarding the plight of homeless families, and led on the authorship of Health visiting with homeless families during the COVID-19 pandemic – an article profiling the role of specialist Health Visitors during the pandemic authored in partnership with the Magpie Project. We are now working alongside Medact and the Shared Health Foundation to improve the plight of homeless families in the longer term. Please contact us if you would like to find out more and get involved.

Resources for those working with homeless families

Homeless Families – Background and Statistics

Legal Guidance

Clinical Guidance


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