Through our knowledge action inquiry, we are exploring how to promote the construction of evidence, narratives and ideas about severe and multiple disadvantage that are increasingly consistent with the system behaviours.

There are different aspects to this work. We are supporting the generation of evidence to expand what we currently know. We are also interested in why some aspects of the experience of disadvantage are less ‘noticed’ than others. We recognise that buried in decisions about what to notice, to evidence and to act upon are value judgements about what (and who) matters. Most fundamentally, we want to promote evidence and narratives that are consistent with a sense of human interconnectedness rather than those which drive stigma and ‘othering’.

We have work going on across all these aspects.

In 2015 we produced Hard Edges, which drew together previously separate datasets from homelessness, offending and substance misuse treatment systems, mental health and poverty.  It delivered comprehensive statistics on people facing severe and multiple disadvantage: where they live, what their lives are like, how effectively they are supported by services, and the economic implications of the disadvantages they face. It was supported by Lives Behind The Numbers which are the stories of people experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage in their own words.

In partnership with the Robertson Trust, we are repeating Hard Edges profiling exercise this time in Scotland and again working with Heriot-Watt University. An interim report from the project’s lived experience reference group is here.

In addition, a gendered profile is underway, also with Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with DMSS Research. The final report will be published in 2018. You can see an interim qualitative report here.

With the LGBT Foundation, we have been exploring LGBT experiences of severe and multiple disadvantage. This work has used participatory processes to uncover testimony including from people outside of services. It speaks powerfully of the human consequences of the intersection of discrimination and material disadvantage. The report will be published in 2018.

The Synergi Collaborative Centre, a partnership between Queen Mary University of London and the University of Manchester, commissioned by Lankelly Chase, was launched in November 2017. Synergi is experimenting with the use of different kinds of knowledge (patient and frontline voices alongside formal academic evidence) to promote change in relation to ethnic inequality in mental health.

We have supported the women behind the book ‘Untold Story’, about their experiences of street-based prostitution, to form a new community group so that they can continue to share their experience of taking control of their stories.

We have worked with the Social Research Unit at Dartington and Ratio to listen to young people facing severe disadvantage and their frontline workers to learn about the qualities of their relationships which catalyse change. The lessons for organisations and wider commissioning environments are shared and debated online on a dedicated open Medium site.

We are working with Bac-In, a strongly values-based user-led substance misuse service in Nottingham, to explore the lives of the men they work with, who are mainly from Black and minority ethnic communities.

We have been supporting Domestic Violence Intervention Project and Cranstoun Drug Services to work with men with serious substance misuse problems on their use of violence. We have begun a small research project with them exploring the significance of ideas of toxic masculinity. We think this is a significant but often unnoticed feature of the causes and experience of severe and multiple disadvantage.

We have begun a new phase in our partnership with Leeds GATE, focusing in particular on ideas of solidarity and identity.

We fund and support a research network of more than 200 researchers from academia, NGOs and statutory agencies convened by Revolving Doors Agency. The network is a place for all those with a concern about the construction of knowledge and evidence in this field to ask ‘what do we know, and what do we still need to know?’