What is CHAIN?
CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) is a multi-agency database recording information about people sleeping rough and the wider street population in London. The system, which is commissioned and funded by the Mayor of London and managed by Homeless Link, represents the UK's most detailed and comprehensive source of information about rough sleeping.
CHAIN allows users to share information about work done with rough sleepers and about their needs, ensuring that they receive the most appropriate support and that efforts are not duplicated. Reports from the system are used at an operational level by commissioning bodies to monitor the effectiveness of their services, and at a more strategic level by policy makers to gather intelligence about trends within the rough sleeping population and to identify emerging needs.
Who has information recorded about them on CHAIN?
Information is recorded on CHAIN about the following groups of people:
- People who have been seen rough sleeping by outreach workers - often referred to as 'verified rough sleepers'.
- People who have a 'street lifestyle' such as street drinking or begging - often referred to as ‘wider street population'. Many people who have a street lifestyle are also rough sleepers, but a minority are not.
- During the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, CHAIN has also been used to record information about people who are at risk of rough sleeping and have been placed in emergency accommodation to help keep them safe.
CHAIN doesn’t cover 'hidden homeless' groups, such as those who are squatting, sofa surfing or staying in places which are inaccessible to outreach workers.
What information is recorded on CHAIN?
- Basic identifying and demographic information
- Information about people's support needs (for example mental health problems or substance use)
- Information about people’s circumstances prior to rough sleeping
- Contacts made with outreach workers on the street (i.e. instances of people being seen rough sleeping)
- Key outcomes, actions and events (including arrivals at and move on from accommodation)
Who records information on CHAIN?
Information is added to the system by services who work directly with rough sleepers and the street population in London. This includes:
- Outreach teams
- Rough sleeper assessment and reconnection services, such as No Second Night Out.
- Accommodation projects, including hostels, second-stage accommodation and supported housing projects
- Other specialist services
How can I access the CHAIN database?
Inputting access on CHAIN is provided for local authority commissioned outreach teams, assessment and reconnection services such as No Second Night Out, and hostels who work with rough sleepers on a regular basis.
CHAIN records can only be created by outreach teams, and all records start with someone being contacted on the street. Other workers add information to records created by outreach workers.
View only access
Some agencies and projects who do not contribute data to CHAIN find it helpful to be able to view information about their clients and find out about their contact with outreach workers.
View only access can be requested by organisations in London working directly with rough sleepers. The CHAIN Team will discuss access requests with the relevant local authority officer and the Greater London Authority (GLA). If you are requesting access you should ensure your local authority lead on rough sleeping is aware of this and supportive of your request.
Organisations will be provided with access where:
- They are working with one or more local authorities to reduce rough sleeping
- They are working closely with their local outreach team if appropriate
- They have appropriate policies on staff vetting (which may include DBS checks)
- Staff work directly with rough sleepers on a regular basis and specialise in work with this group in particular
- The work undertaken is relevant to CHAIN e.g. linking clients with other services - not all those working with rough sleepers need to know the information held on CHAIN
- The Chief Executive or Director has signed the CHAIN data protection agreement
- They are operating within London.
If you'd like to request view only access please download and complete the form below, giving as much information as possible.
What do I need to know if my information has been recorded on CHAIN?
If you think that information about you might have been recorded on CHAIN, you can find out more about why the information is recorded, who has access to it, what your rights are, and other important details, by reading the CHAIN: Information for Clients leaflet (for people who have been met on the street by an outreach team), or the CHAIN: Information for Covid-19 Accommodation Clients leaflet (for people who have been placed in emergency accommodation to prevent them rough sleeping during the pandemic). This is sometimes also referred to as a ‘privacy notice’, and a worker would normally give you a copy when they first start recording information about you on the system.
How can I access reports from CHAIN?
You can access quarterly and annual CHAIN reports via the London Datastore.
How do I find out more about CHAIN?
If you have any queries regarding CHAIN reports or need to know more about how CHAIN works, please call the CHAIN Team on 020 7840 4451 or email CHAIN.
If you have a media enquiry about CHAIN, contact the Greater London Authority media team at email@example.com