School of Health in Social Science

Living Through Covid: A City Turned Upside Down

An exploration of how people in the homelessness sector, including those with lived experience of homelessness, experienced the initial phase of the Covid19 crisis, and how street-level action and understanding affected ongoing intervention and support.

Living through Covid

2020 was an extraordinary year.

The early part of 2020 in the UK found us in a place we had never been. A global pandemic.

The news was full of healthcare under pressure and lives being torn apart by the new virus, Covid19.



The unknown.

People experiencing homelessness and living on the streets were understood to be highly vulnerable to the virus.

In the UK, unprecedented action was taken. Bureaucracy was pushed aside, collaborators including government, support agencies, charities, businesses and individuals all joined forces. ‘Red tape’ fell away as those working in the third sector in Scotland found that they had access to funding and were able to act quickly. The city was turned upside down.

The Cyrenians captured all of this amazing activity through asking frontline staff working in the homelessness sector, managers and people experiencing homelessness to document their experiences through poems, songs, video interviews, reflective journals, tweets and photographs.

Working with researchers at the Centre for Homelessness and Inclusion Health, all of this fantastic ‘real time’ data was analysed and a detailed report written highlighting the findings. The report was based on interviews and also used photographs, tweets, poetry and song to capture and share learning. An online exhibition was created that aims to share these materials with you, and to ask you some questions about how we should proceed.

Greyfriars Bobby wearing a mask

The report and online exhibition were launched during an online event with Cyrenains on Monday 14th February 2022.

This project was funded by The Lankelly Chase Foundation. The Lankelly Chase Foundation supports initiatives that are tackling hidden or neglected forms of disadvantage and harm.