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Joanne McGrath

SPHR - ARC NENC PhD student

Health Inequalities theme

Northumbria University (Fuse)

Hear more about Jo's research

Joanne's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    Since graduating from Newcastle University with a MA in Ancient History and Archaeology in 2001, I’ve had quite a varied career path. I started out teaching adults and moved into various community development, training and VCS roles. After completing an MSc in Psychology in 2011 I started working in the homelessness sector, at Crisis UK. In 2017 I was awarded a WCMT Fellowship in Housing and spent 9 weeks researching best practice in reducing homelessness amongst prison leavers in the USA and Norway. I currently work freelance for Comic Relief alongside my PhD.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    Public health is interesting to me because it makes a real and lasting impact on individuals and communities. There is a real need for effective public health research linking with policy and practice.

  • What is your research focused on?

    The research is focused on homeless women with multiple disadvantage, and how they present to healthcare services.

  • Why is it important?

    Research consistently indicates that women with multiple disadvantage tend to present to health services at crisis point, with rapidly deteriorating physical and mental health. The tendency for women to be “hidden” from services has a long term impact, worsened by both the homeless population’s general tendency to engage less with the health system, and multiple factors specific to women which can reduce their engagement with services but are as yet not fully understood. By understanding the complexity of these women’s lives within the intersecting structural inequalities within which they operate, my research aims to contribute to the development of pathways into earlier and more effective public health intervention.

  • What do you like about being part of a NIHR SPHR and ARC collaboration?

    It is wonderful being part of this collaboration, with excellent training and networking opportunities.

  • What skills are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    I am looking forward to the challenge of undertaking such a lengthy piece of complex research and am hoping to further develop my research skills, as well as gain experience in project management.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    I’m not sure yet! I’m keeping an open mind at this stage, but ideally I’d love to be involved in research making a difference to people’s lives.


Joanne McGrath, Stephen Crossley, Monique Lhussier and Natalie Forster. Social capital and women’s narratives of homelessness and multiple exclusion in northern England. International Journal for Equity in Health, 2023.

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