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Day Centres for Homeless People in South London: Early Learning Points from Operating During the First COVID-19 Lockdown in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number2021
Pages (from-to)348-355
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Long-Term Care
Published17 Nov 2021

King's Authors


Context: Many day centres for homeless people remained open during the first national lockdown in England following the COVID-19 pandemic. Lacking any official guidance on how to adapt, day centres for homeless people had to navigate risks of infection and changes in the situation of homeless people during this time.
Objective: This small study aimed to discover how some day centres for homeless people approached and experienced the implications of lockdown. The objective was to draw early learning points to inform further research on the future trajectory of day centre provision for homeless people during the pandemic and beyond.
Methods: This rapid qualitative study included semi-structured phone interviews with day centre managers (n = 5) and a systematic search of public facing websites of day centres (n = 10) across four South London boroughs. Data were analysed inductively, using the framework method.
Findings: Findings indicate three learning points 1: the importance of strong networks between day centres with local authorities and other organisations for homeless people to enable services to provide humanitarian assistance, 2: the significance of day centres in their role as humanitarian assistants as a first point of contact for newly homeless people 3: the value of a central information hub.
Limitations: The regional focus on South London and the sample size, which reflects ethical imperatives involved in avoiding undue pressure on day centre staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, limit this study. The findings are to be considered as a springboard for in-depth research into day centres’ support for homeless people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Implications: Findings are valuable as a snapshot of this largely under-researched group of services and service users during the first lockdown. Further research based on the findings could lead to good practice examples to inform the future trajectory of social care provision for homeless people.

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