Key Groups Training - Unpredictable Environments: Understanding & Responding to New Psychoactive Substances

Friday, 28 February 2020
Nationwide | Free Training | August - March 2020

A new set of training packages are being funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in response to their Rough Sleeping Strategy and their vision of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027. 

Click here to find out more about the webinars and here to find out more about the spotlight events we are delivering as part of the Key Groups progamme.

The training packages are being funded to be delivered across the country from August 2019 until March 2020. They are designed to ensure frontline staff working in local authorities and the voluntary sector have the skills they need to work with key groups of individuals who are experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping.

These new training packages will include:

  • Training to identify and support victims of modern slavery to be provided by Hestia and victims of domestic abuse, to be provided by Shelter (in partnership with Homeless Link).
  • Training for frontline staff about the particular issues faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and how to most effectively support them. To be provided by Stonewall Housing.
  • Provided by Homeless Link (in partnership with Shelter), training for frontline staff on how to deal with unpredictable environments, for instance dealing with clients under the influence of New Psychoactive Substances such as Spice.
  • And training for frontline staff on how to support non-UK nationals, including ensuring they have access to the full range of support they are entitled to. To be provided by Shelter (in partnership with Homeless Link).

Training: Unpredictable Environments: Understanding & Responding to New Psychoactive Substances 

This course is aimed at professionals who work with individuals who are experiencing homelessness and/or are rough sleeping and are using or are at risk of using New Psychoactive Substances (Spice, fentanyl and illicit/online medication). The aim will be to actively engage and respond to an increasingly complex issue facing the most vulnerable people in our society. The course will explore the risks, dangers and consequences of vulnerable adults using NPS. In particular, the shift in use that has led to an increasingly saturated new drug market where more powerful substances are being embraced by vulnerable adults. NPS use has led to an increase in complex presentations such as poly-drug use with existing substances (e.g. heroin), mental health issues, chaotic behaviour whilst under the influence and physical health issues. The course will also explore the particular issues related to the housing/homeless sectors such as using on the streets/in tents, in hostels and working with drug services (including detoxification options and community/residential rehabilitation) to ensure long term and effective recovery.

Who is this course for?

  • Frontline workers from the homelessness and supported housing sectors, e.g. housing options, outreach, housing support and day centre staff
  • Operational managers from the homelessness and supported housing sectors who wish to increase their knowledge to help support their staff and help inform strategic thinking.

What will you learn?

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Understand the history and impact of NPS on those experiencing homelessness and/or rough sleeping
  • Be able to understand and effectively respond to Spice, Fentanyl and online medication issues
  • Be able to effectively respond using a multi-agency approach.
  • Be able to effectively respond to the specific needs of people experiencing homelessness who are using on the streets/in tents and in hostels
  • Be able to work with drug services in your local area.

Course content

This course will explore:

  • Understand what  (NPS) are
  • Understand the background and history of NPS and the shifts in drug use and policy in the 21st century, including the 2016 Psychoactive Substance Act
  • Explore how NPS can be grouped to simplify your understanding of the drugs and reduce the number of drugs you need to remember
  • Explore how SPICE has become the predominant new psychoactive substance issue in our society
  • Explore other emerging NPS trends: Fentanyl and illicit/online medication
  • Understand how to effectively respond to NPS by engaging with users, screening and assessing individuals and exploring how homelessness and supported housing services can ‘future proof’ their knowledge in line with the 2017 Orange Guidelines
  • Understand the particular issues that relate to the housing/homelessness sectors such as people using on the streets/in tents and in hostels
  • Understand how to work with drug services to get the support the people you work with need
  • Develop and explore effective ways to apply a multi-agency approach to service provision to effectively tackle NPS use.

Course duration

This is a one-day course

How to book 

Click on a date below to make your booking, please note that changes have been made and you can now send up to 3 people from your org onto one session. If you have any questions about the training programme please email Laura Millward, Training Manager at:

As sessions are selling out please sign-up to our Skills Link newsletter here to be the first to hear about additional training dates that have been added to the programme.

North West Region
Manchester - 22nd August 2019
Manchester - 4th March 2020
Liverpool - 4th December 2019

North East Region
Middlesbrough - 2nd December 2019
Newcastle - 19th February 2020

Yorkshire & Humber Region 
Leeds - 14th October 2019
Leeds - 2nd March 2020
York - 9th January 2020

East Midlands Region
Leicester - 23rd September 2019
Leicester - 5th February 2020
Lincoln - 24th October 2019
Nottingham - 27th January 2020

West Midlands Region
Birmingham - 5th November 2019
Birmingham - 3rd March 2020

London - 27th August 2019
London - 29th October 2019
London - 30th March 2020

East of England Region
Norwich - 23rd September 2019
Cambridge - 7th November 2019

South East Region 
Oxford - 15th October 2019
Brighton - 11th November 2019
Brighton - 5th March 2020
Kent - 28th January 2020
Southampton - 22nd January 2020
Reading - 7th February 2020

South West Region
Exeter 18th September 2019
Exeter 6th February 2020
Plymouth - 20th November 2019
Bristol - 11th December 2019

Please see below for more information about the rest of the Key Groups training programme:
Non-UK Nationals and Domestic Abuse training (Shelter):
LGBT training (Stonewall Housing):
Modern Slavery training (Hestia):

Homeless Link and Shelter working in partnership 



Talk To Us

Laura Millward

Laura Millward

Training manager

Laura develops and manages Homeless Link's in-house training programme. 

Telephone: 020 7840 4450
Twitter: @TrainingHL