Find out what we do
We work with our communities to deliver positive change as part of our wider University Community Plan. This means that we draw on our research, education, staff and students, to co-create opportunities and projects which have measurable and sustainable impacts.
We have been involved in many exciting projects over the last few years and despite the challenges of the Covid19 pandemic, we have continued to work flexibly with our community partners and university staff and students to deliver positive change.
We are an outward facing Centre and are open to collaborating with a wide range of partners in the community including businesses, third sector, public sector and individuals.
We work closely with our community partners to facilitate student and staff volunteering opportunities, co-develop research projects, develop education opportunities around homelessness and inclusion health and to influence policy.
We have been involved in co-creating a range of different research studies generated by questions asked by our partners working through the Covid19 pandemic in the homelessness sector in Scotland. This has included service evaluations, arts-based exhibitions and the implementation of a digital resource, Street Support Edinburgh, to prevent homelessness.
Undergraduate medical students have been doing fantastic work during the Covid19 pandemic by being involved with the work of Dr John Budd and colleagues at the Edinburgh Access Practice [now The Access Place] to support local homelessness services. This has included the donation of PPE for frontline workers and delivering food, toiletries and clothing to people living in temporary hotel accommodation during the lockdown.
Our students have formed a society for Homelessness and Inclusion Health. This society aims to get the student community more integrated and involved in health services for the homeless and other vulnerable populations, and on educating the public on the issues of homelessness and health access in our university community.
Read about student experiences in homelessness and inclusion health here.
In 2021, a group of second year medical students created an innovative cook book, ‘Cooking without a cooker’, for people experiencing homelessness and living in bedsit type accommodation.
Slurp is a student-run social enterprise aiming to support individuals affected by homelessness in Edinburgh. They run bi-weekly cooking sessions at Streetwork’s Holyrood hub where they make up to 50 hot meals alongside Streetwork’s service users.
We have funded two PhD scholarships in the School of Health in Social Science in 2019 for research investigating different aspects of homelessness:
Lucie Wöllenstein [supervised by Dr Sally Brown and Dr David Henderson]
Project title: Using Machine Learning to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Homelessness Prevention Efforts for Those Experiencing Multiple Exclusion Homelessness in Scotland
Catalina Martin [supervised by Dr Amy Chandler and Dr Hazel Marzetti]
Project Title: Meanings of home and homelessness for LGBTQ+ young people in Scotland.
In addition, Emily Adams will begin her PhD in September 2022 through the Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC). She is currently working with Professor Stewart Mercer, co-Director of the ACRC at the University of Edinburgh, to develop the focus of her study relating to an aspect of homelessness prevention.
The University is committed to investing resources in tackling the causes of homelessness and staff from across the whole university are working to support people in Edinburgh who are experiencing homelessness, as well as finding solutions to the reasons some people find themselves homeless. Some of the projects our staff at the University of Edinburgh have been involved with over the last year include All4paws vet services for the pets of people experiencing homelessness, training for Invisible Cities tour guides and Our Health projects that create community-based research that invites local communities to set real-world research questions and agendas around health and wellbeing.
Prior to the Covid19 pandemic, we were able to work with our colleagues in Edinburgh Local to offer volunteering opportunities for university staff with community organisations and these opportunities are returning again in 2022:
Dr Steph Grohmann has been a key member of the Centre and was the first scholar in the School of Health in Social science to win a prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2019). Her ongoing research project explores ethics in the context of neoliberal social service delivery in the UK.
From 2018 -2020 we worked with the School of Law to support and develop a ‘legal navigation’ project undertaken by Catriona Grant, a social worker and law graduate. She was suported to work with clients at the Edinburgh Access Practice for 12 hours per week to support and signpost people at risk of homelessness to appropriate legal services.
Our Centre is governed by a steering group which is Chaired by Dr Fiona Cuthill, Academic Director for the Centre.
Professor Stewart Mercer is the Research Director for the Centre.
Mr Ewan Aitken CEO, Cyrenians
Dr John Budd GP with specialist interest in homelessness
Dr Adam Burley Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Access Practice
Professor Charlotte Clarke Executive Dean, Durham University
Dr Fiona Cuthill Academic Director for Centre. Senior Lecturer in Nursing Studies, University of Edinburgh
Dr Steph Grohmann Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Edinburgh
Professor Sarah Johnsen iSPHERE, Heriot Watt University
Ms Alison King Senior Health Improvement Officer, Public Health Scotland
Professor Stewart Mercer Director of Research for Centre. Professor of Primary Care and Multimorbidity, University of Edinburgh
Dr James Marple Founding member and GP Primary Care
Professor Lesley McAra CBE Assistant Dean Community Relations, University of Edinburgh
Ms Isobel Nisbet Inclusive Edinburgh Homelessness Manager, Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, Edinburgh City Council
Professor Stewart Mercer continues to oversee the research development within the Centre for Homelessness and Health. Dr Fiona Cuthill has been the Academic Director for the Centre for the last 4 years but she is now moving on from the University of Edinburgh. As we emerge from the Covid19 pandemic, the Centre is entering a new and exciting phase of development from 2022 onwards. We are currently working with our community partners to develop these plans to ensure the growth and sustainability of the Centre into the future.