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Department of Social Anthropology


How did homeless people and also the support services they depend on, cope during the Covid-19 pandemic and specifically the stay-at-home orders?

Based on several months of fieldwork as a volunteer and numerous interviews in several institutions in the UK, Dr Johannes Lenhard continued his work with homeless people, the main focus in his PhD.  In the current project his focus was specifically on the care institutions for homeless people and how they were impacted by the pandemic and the lockdown. Looking at identifying gaps in the care ecosystem, he set out to understand care provision and identify both success stories and vulnerabilities aggravated by the pandemic such as mental health and addiction support. In a second step, the hope is to drive change towards more holistic support for homeless going forward. 

So far, Johannes has contributed to several anthropological blogs with specific collections around Covid (for SAW on essential work (Balancing Support), for Somatosphere and Allegra on specific issues around addiction (The Hostel saved mePushing Boundaries, for The Sociological Review on care (Forgotten Ones)).
He was also featured in the Social Anthropology Covid special issue on Covid-19 (Whose responsibility) and wrote short pieces for the Bennett Institute blog as well as the Cambridge University webpage on related observations. Beyond delivering reports to some of the institutions observed directly, Johannes is lastly also contributing member of a group advising the government on specific vulnerabilities caused and/or aggravated by Covid-19 (SPI-B) led by Prof Laura Bear and Nikita Simpson at LSE. His latest piece written together with his colleague Eana Meng was published recently in the national magazine Prospect and ends on a very hopeful note: if there are any silver linings to the pandemic, one might have been for people sleeping rough. They were better taken care of at least in terms of housing and certain types of support and even more importantly there is a specific openness right now to shift policies permanently. 
To help make this shift, he is currently in the process of developing a follow on impact-driven project to bring different stakeholders on a local and eventually national level together to better understand best practices, learnings and draft a plan for improved care provisions going forward. 
Image credit: James Appleton