Monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing homelessness

Groundswell are undertaking research to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the lives of people experiencing homelessness. The project aims to understand how COVID-19 and the response to it is affecting the lives of people who are homeless and include the voices of people experiencing homelessness in the national and local decision-making processes.

Graphic portraying the coronavirus
Graphic showing someone in a sleeping bag
Graphic demonstrating someone coughing into a tissue
Graphic showing someone in a bed
Graphic showing handling medication

COVID-19 and the measures taken in response to the virus have and continue to significantly effect the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness. Responses to COVID-19 for people experiencing homelessness are rapidly moving and vary based on location, commissioning and service providers. Working with our #HealthNow partners we are tracking these changes and engaging people who are affected by them to understand their impact.

Between April and August 370 daily diaries, 93 telephone interviews and a network of 13 digital reporters led to nine briefings highlighting the experiences, challenges, barriers and opportunities people who were homeless were facing during the pandemic. The full research process is led by people with experience of homelessness themselves.

We encourage you to use these briefings when planning services, support, responses and solutions to the issue of homelessness during COVID-19:


Key findings & lessons for future planning:

The project aims:

  • to document the actions taken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak with a focus on people experiencing homelessness
  • to capture the experiences, concerns and feedback of people experiencing homelessness who have been affected as a result of COVID-19 response with a particular focus on health and human rights
  • to provide feedback from people experiencing homelessness that can inform the decision-making process for statutory and third-sector decision makers.
  • to provide advice and guidance on how people experiencing can survive and cope with measures.

We are gathering insight through a range of data collection methods. These include:

  • Reports from our existing network of staff and peer volunteers, through daily diaries logging the key issues people are facing.
  • Archiving secondary information which chronologically illustrates local, national and policy responses to COVID-19 and homelessness.
  • Telephone interviews with people experiencing homeleOn Our Radar logossness to gather narratives and find out how COVID-19 is directly impacting people.
  • Regular text and audio reports from our ‘mobile reporters’ across the country using a citizen journalism approach, in partnership with On Our Radar.



If you want to find out more or get involved in our project, contact our Research Manager Jo:

If you want regular updates about this project and other related work, please subscribe to our #HealthNow newsletter here.

We are grateful to NHS England and Improvement and The National Lottery Community Fund for funding this project. The research will directly inform the way the NHS responds to COVID-19 for people who are homeless.

The Health Now logo
The National Lottery Community Fund logo