Research unveils insights into community-based health services for people experiencing homelessness in Newcastle

New research has been published to contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve healthcare strategies for those experiencing homelessness in Newcastle. 

The study – funded by the Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Excellence Development Award Scheme (REDA) and conducted by researchers in collaboration with Tyne Housing and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health – offers valuable insights into the operational aspects of the Joseph Cowen Health Centre in Byker, Newcastle.

People experiencing homelessness often encounter significant barriers when accessing health and social care support in their communities and recent reports emphasise that the challenges are multifaceted, extending beyond housing alone. The Joseph Cowen Health Centre has been a longstanding example of integrated and coordinated care in the North East, offering a range of services through its drop-in facility.

Managed by Tyne Housing and operated in partnership with NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board and Newcastle City Council, the centre serves as a beacon of hope for individuals without housing or GP registration. Offering services such as food bank vouchers, bathing facilities and clothing, it is a vital lifeline to those in need. 

The research, conducted between June and September last year, involved discussions with 14 service providers operating from the centre, who shared their perspectives on what worked well and what could be improved in delivering services. 

Key findings from the evaluation highlight the positive impact of co-locating services in one place, which facilitated increased engagement and access for individuals in need. 

Emma Adams, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellow led the project with Sheena Ramsay, Director of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. 

Emma and Sheena said: “We have been working with Tyne Housing over the last few years over several studies. Our collaboration with Tyne Housing on this project has provided valuable insights into the perspective of the challenges and successes of delivering health and wellbeing services in a community-based setting for people facing homelessness or precarious housing. 

“It has been great to see how Tyne Housing has already begun to implement changes based on early feedback. We hope that the findings will contribute to enhancing support systems for those experiencing homelessness and improve their access to essential care.” 

Steve McKinlay, chief executive of Tyne Housing, said: “At Tyne, we always strive to improve and enhance our services for those we support, and the Joseph Cowen Health Centre offers a safe space for people to access a diverse range of services. 

“Collaborating with Emma and Sheena on this research has been invaluable in understanding the effectiveness of the centre and highlighting areas for improvement.” 

The research ‘Exploring what works well and less well in a community-based drop-in delivery model providing health and wellbeing services for people experiencing homelessness’ is available to view online here: 

About Fuse

Fuse is a partnership of public health researchers from the five universities in North East England of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside. The Centre works with policy makers, practice partners, the public, and voluntary and community organisations, to improve health and wellbeing and tackle health inequalities. Fuse is also a founding member of the NIHR School for Public Health Research. 

Funding statement

This project was funded by the Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Excellence Development Award Scheme (REDA).

Emma Adams, (NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, NU-010978) is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) for this research project. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, NHS or the UK Department of Health and Social Care. 


Twitter: @fuse_online @AdamsEmmaAudrey