Working with families who are experiencing homelessness
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
- House of Commons (2020) Households in temporary accommodation (England) Research Briefing
- Shelter (2019) Generation Homeless. The Numbers behind the Story
- Children’s Commissioner (2019) Bleak Houses: Tackling the crisis of family homelessness in England.
- Crisis (2019) The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019
- Shelter (2016) Home and away: The rise in homeless families moved away from their local area
- Anna Freud Centre and NSPCC (2015) An unstable start ALL BABIES COUNT: SPOTLIGHT ON HOMELESSNESS
- Children’s Rights Alliance for England (2016) #homesfor children Change It ‘It’s like being in prison’ Children speak out on homelessness
- Shelter (2004) Living in limbo Survey of homeless households living in temporary accommodation
- National Homelessness Advisory Service (2018) Placing homeless households out of area: local authority guidance and best practice
- National Homelessness Advisory Service (2016) Social Services Duties to Homeless Children
- Shared Health Foundation (2019 Homeless Families The Gold Standard: A Proposal
- Homeless Link, QNI et al (2018) Addressing health inequalities in homeless children, young people and families A toolkit for Public Health Nurses
- Homeless Link, QNI et al (2018) Addressing health inequalities in homeless children, young people and families A Learning Resources for Public Health Nurses
- NSPCC (2015) The impact of homelessness on babies and their families Learning resource for the Homeless Health network, QNI
- QNI (2012) Safeguarding Homeless Families Guidance for Practitioners
- Shared Health Foundation (2020) A Call to Action: To safeguard homeless families during the Covid-19 pandemic and in its aftermath
- Children’s Commissioner (2020) No Way Out: Children Stuck in B&Bs during lockdown
- Summary findings on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on food banks JUNE 2020
- Action for Children (2020) Childhood during coronavirus: protecting children from the effects of poverty
- Medact (2020) The impact of insecure housing on Covid-19 transmission
- Journal of Health Visiting (2020) Health Visiting with homeless families during the COVID-19 pandemic