Vulnerable Groups

Vulnerable Populations

The term ‘vulnerable groups’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘disadvantaged groups’. The stereotyped preconception that ‘vulnerability’ is an inherent characteristic of women masks the fact that stereotypical gender roles and attitudes and their discriminatory impact on women, sustained by the lack/omission of acts on the part of states to effectively address them, impose disadvantages on women, which may result in increased risks of becoming vulnerable to discrimination, including violence. Therefore, the term ‘vulnerable groups’ is not recommended, and ‘disadvantaged groups’ should be used instead.

Although the needs of medically vulnerable populations are serious, and are often debilitating or life-threatening, requiring extensive and intensive medical and non-medical services, these needs tend to be underestimated.

People are considered vulnerable, for various different reasons. The following list identifies individuals or groups who are potentially considered at risk:

  • Ethnicity
  • Disability
  • Migrants
  • Age, and
  • Sexuality.

This is due to public exposure and the outcomes related with various conditions. For instance; ethnicity consists of people from all different backgrounds; from black African to Asian. The ethnicity of an individual could be portrayed as how that person considers themselves, eg. Self-identification.

The health domains of vulnerable populations can be divided into 3 categories: physical, psychological, and social. Those with physical needs include high-risk mothers and infants, the chronically ill and disabled, and persons living with human immunodeficiency (HIV) syndrome. Chronic medical conditions include respiratory diseases, diabetes, and heart disease.

In the psychological domain; vulnerable populations include those with chronic mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as well as those with a history of alcohol and/or substance abuse.

In the social realm; vulnerable populations include those living in abusive families, the homeless, immigrants, and refugees.

The needs of these populations are serious, debilitating, and vital, with poor health in 1 dimension likely compounded by poor health in others. Those with multiple problems also face more significant comorbidities and cumulative risks of their illness than those experiencing a single illness.

Hate Crime

Hate incidents and hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility, or prejudice directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. The crimes committed against someone could be due to their disability, transgender identity, race, religion or belief, and/or sexual orientation. Examples of hate crime include:

  • physical and sexual assaults / harassment,
  • criminal damage
  • murder
  • theft / fraud / burglary, and
  • hate mail (Malicious Communications Act 1988).

Source: West Yorkshire Police




Vulnerability is the degree to which a population, individual or organization is unable to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts of disasters.
Children, pregnant women, elderly people, malnourished people, and people who are ill or immunocompromised, are particularly vulnerable when a disaster strikes, and take a relatively high share of the disease burden associated with emergencies. Poverty – and its common consequences such as malnutrition, homelessness, poor housing and destitution – is a major contributor to vulnerability. Source: WHO

Ethnic Group

An ethnic group or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives.


This does not only consist of people with physical disabilities, such as those requiring a wheelchair, but also could be due to someone’s physical appearance or mental health.


This could include Eastern Europeans, and other immigrants with English not as their first language.


The elderly can be targeted and/or neglected due to their physical and mental deterioration and awareness, thus causing people to exploit them for money and other things.


Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviours. People are now more averse to being public about their sexual orientation or preference, including: gay, lesbian and bisexual.

To view further information on the different vulnerable groups; please see below:

Domestic Abuse

The following definition of domestic abuse is the Cross Party agreed definition, used by many organisations: Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour,  violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, … Continue reading "Domestic Abuse"

Children with Need

Children with Vulnerabilities or Safeguarding Issues Wakefield has adopted the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) when assessing children who may have a vulnerability or safeguarding need. It is an inter-agency model which aims to provide children, young people and their families with the most appropriate services to safeguard children and to promote well-being. The CAF is … Continue reading "Children with Need"


Child Sexual Exploitation Headlines CSE is defined as exploitive situations and relationships, where a young person receives something as a result of them performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities. CSE can affect any child; the majority of victims are girls, but boys are also sexually exploited. Research suggests that between 5 to 16% … Continue reading "Exploitation"


A carer is someone who provides unpaid help and support to a relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without that help due to frailty, long term illness (including mental health), disability or substance misuse issues. A young carer is an individual under the age of 18 whose life is in some way restricted … Continue reading "Carers"

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

Headlines Wakefield has a growing cohort of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Around 15% of pupils in Wakefield have been identified as having special educational needs and/or disabilities. The three main primary needs for SEN Support pupils are Moderate Learning Difficulty (MLD), Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) and Social, … Continue reading "Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)"


  “Homelessness is associated with severe poverty and is a social determinant of mental health. To be deemed statutorily homeless a household must have become unintentionally homeless and must be considered to be in priority need. As such, statutorily homeless households contain some of the most vulnerable and needy members of our communities. Being homeless … Continue reading "Homelessness"

Gypsies and Travellers

‘Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excluding members of an organised group of Travelling Showpeople or circus people travelling together as such.’ … Continue reading "Gypsies and Travellers"


  A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. It can be a permanent injury, illness or health problem which tends to be restricting in some way, and has a substantial effect on a persons’ daily life. Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a … Continue reading "Disabilities"

Liaison & Diversion

Liaison and Diversion (L&D) services identify people who have mental health, learning disability, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as suspects, defendants or offenders. The service can then support people through the early stages of criminal system pathway, refer them for appropriate health or social … Continue reading "Liaison & Diversion"

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is child abuse and a severe form of gender-based violence against women and girls. (World Health Organisation (WHO) 2014) FGM is illegal in the UK … Continue reading "Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)"

Sensory Impairment

‘Sensory impairment is the common term used to describe: Deafness, blindness, visual impairment, hearing impairment and Deafblindness. Sensory impairment is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, is no longer normal. Examples of this include; if you wear glasses you have a sight impairment, and/or if you find it hard … Continue reading "Sensory Impairment"

Children in Care and Care Leavers

Headlines There number of children in care (CiC) in Wakefield as at 31st of March 2021 was 638 which was very similar to the number in March 2020 which was 640. The rate of children in care in Wakefield (per 10,000 population) was 85 in 2021 which was higher than the national rate of 67 … Continue reading "Children in Care and Care Leavers"