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Personal profile


Sarah Johnsen is a Professorial Fellow in the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University.  After completing her PhD in Human Geography at the University of Otago (New Zealand), Sarah worked as Research Associate in the Geography Department at Queen Mary University of London.  She was then employed as Research Manager for The Salvation Army (UK & Ireland) before moving to a post as Research Fellow in the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York.  Sarah has been based at Heriot-Watt University since 2010.

Research interests

Most of Sarah’s research focuses on homelessness, addiction, and related forms of street culture (e.g. begging and street drinking).  She has particular expertise in relation to ‘deep’ social exclusion and welfare provision for people with complex support needs such as co-occurring substance misuse and mental health problems. Sarah also has ongoing interests in the role of faith communities in welfare provision, and the practice and ethics of research involving vulnerable people.

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homelessness Social Sciences
welfare Social Sciences
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Research Output 1999 2019

Ending street homelessness: what works and why we don’t do it

Mackie, P., Johnsen, S. & Wood, J., 2019, In : European Journal of Homelessness. 13, 1, p. 85-96

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Destitution in the UK 2018

Fitzpatrick, S., Bramley, G., Sosenko, F., Blenkinsopp, J., Wood, J., Johnsen, S., Littlewood, M. & Watts, B., 2018, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 72 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Open Access

Final Findings: Homelessness

Johnsen, S., Watts, B. & Fitzpatrick, S., May 2018, University of York. 8 p.

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Open Access

Activities 2006 2019

Plenary presentation at Australasian Housing Research Conference, Adelaide

Sarah Johnsen (Keynote speaker)
7 Feb 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Presentation for the Humanist Society Scotland

Sarah Johnsen (Invited speaker)
17 Mar 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic lecture

Public lecture hosted by St John's Methodist Church, Hamilton, New Zealand

Sarah Johnsen (Speaker)
5 Apr 2018

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic lecture

Keynote at Scottish Churches Housing Association and CRNS 'The Difference You're Making

Sarah Johnsen (Keynote speaker)
13 Sep 2018

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Invited talk at the Homelessness and Support Practice Exchange Forum

Sarah Johnsen (Invited speaker)
11 May 2018

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk