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

Monday, 1 June 2020
Online | Free Training | April - June

Our MHCLG funded Key Groups Unpredictable Environments training has moved online 

The face to face training course: Key Groups Unpredictbale Environments has been turned into an online course that will be delivered as three modules over a three week period. The course is 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.

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, day centre staff, Rapid Rehousing Pathway staff, Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub 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

Three 1.5 hour webinars delivered over three weeks
Please note this course was originally a one day face to face course which has now been adapted and turned into an online course due to the current COVID-19 situation.

Please get in touch if you are interested in booking this online course as an online in-house session as we are able to offer some free in-house sessions on a first come first served basis. 

If you have any questions about the training programme please email Laura Millward, Training Manager at:

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