New Centre for Homelessness Impact being set up by Crisis and Glasgow Homelessness Network; backed by Scottish and UK Governments

www.homelessnessimpact.org

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Charities Crisis and Glasgow Homelessness Network (GHN) have today announced that they have successfully secured funding for a new Centre for Homelessness Impact to be based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London and set to formally launch in spring 2018.

The new Centre will analyse how to most effectively prevent and tackle homelessness. It will help policy-makers, commissioners and front-line practitioners build and use evidence about ‘what works’, supporting them to make effective use of resources and to improve impact. In all its work, the Centre will strive to make evidence accessible – through training, support for innovation, and interactive tools.

The announcement follows the publication in January 2017 of the feasibility study, Ending Homelessness Faster by Focusing on ‘What Works’.[1]

The Centre will be headed by Dr Ligia Teixeira, formerly Head of Research and Evaluation at Crisis, as Centre Director with Margaret-Ann Brunjes of GHN as Chair. The Centre aims to become fully independent by spring 2019. Its work will be directed by a board of nine members comprising senior leaders from the public, private and charitable sectors (see below for full list). Core funding has been committed to the venture, initially for three years, by philanthropist Humphrey Battcock.

The initial programme of work for the Centre will include:

  • Creating an evidence map and ‘what works’ guide to steer investment in homelessness services towards activities with the greatest impact
  • Develop an outcomes framework to help provide consistent aims and objectives
  • Designing standards of evidence to help service providers and policy makers improve decisions about which interventions are most effective

The Centre team will work closely with strategic partners to deliver this work, including: the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, the Campbell Collaboration, Dartington Service Design Lab, Heriot-Watt University, the Faculty for Inclusion Health, the Wales Centre for Public Affairs, and the Alliance for Useful Evidence.

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Scottish Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP said:

“I am delighted to give my backing to this new Centre for Homelessness Impact.

“We have set out significant commitments to eradicate homelessness and rough sleeping in Scotland. That includes the formation of a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, set up in October, backed by £50 million to drive change over the next five years.”

“To meet these commitments we must use the power of evidence to ensure that we take actions that are going to really work, and do the most good possible for every pound spent. The Centre will be an important resource for the Action Group and others to draw on, helping to guide decisions and actions in the longer term.”

Homelessness Minister Marcus Jones MP said:

“It’s great news that funding has been secured for a new Centre to prevent and reduce homelessness more effectively.”
“This is a clear priority for this Government and insights from the Centre have the potential to provide us with a much deeper understanding of the most promising approaches in this area.”

Margaret-Ann Brunjes, Director of the Glasgow Homelessness Network said:

“It’s tough being homeless and, in all our different roles, it’s hard to be sure that what we decide and deliver is also what’s most effective. This Centre wants to help make that task easier and people’s lives better. This is an idea tested and now launching in Scotland but with real interest to the rest of the UK and beyond. I’m especially pleased to have the opportunity to support a uniquely qualified Board whose vast experience will guide and connect the Centre’s first steps”.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:

“Together, the homelessness sector helps many thousands of people each year – but we still have a long way to go before we end homelessness for good. This initiative has the potential to develop the means to do just that by helping the sector to harness the power of evidence and data to improve the impact of our work and make a real step change.”

[1] Teixeira, L. (2017) Ending Homelessness Faster by Focusing on ‘What Works’. https://www.crisis.org.uk/media/237356/ending_homelessness_faster_by_focusing_on_what_works_2017.pdf
 

The Centre’s Shadow Supervisory Board includes:

Stephen Aldridge
Director for Analysis and Data Department for Communities and Local Government

Humphrey Battcock,
Philanthropist

Margaret-Ann Brunjes,
Director of Glasgow Homelessness Network and Board Chair

Lesley Fraser,
Director of Housing and Social Justice, Scottish Government

Professor Kenneth Gibb,
Director UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence

Julie Hunter,
Business Strategy Manager North Lanarkshire Council

Jon Sparkes,
Chief Executive of Crisis

James Turner,
Deputy Chief Executive Education Endowment Foundation

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield,
Chief Executive Royal Society of Edinburgh.

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David Ramsay, Development Worker, Glasgow Homelessness Network:

How to get communities in Glasgow ready for this new piece of work I am involved in?

At the start of the year I was involved in delivering 3 Participatory Budgeting events across the city. The areas involved were Priesthill/Househillwood, Parkhead and Govan.

Money from the Scottish Government Community Choices Fund had meant that, in partnership with Glasgow City Council and local Community Planning partners £25,000 was available for each of the three local communities to decide where the money would be best spent, depending on what the community members thought was a priority to them at the time.

After this piece of work was completed Glasgow Homelessness Network have successfully applied for funding from Scottish Government’s Aspiring Communities program to deliver 18 months of free training across nine areas of the city, this will give local communities the opportunity to get ready for the changes which will be happening over the next few years.

The changes are that the Scottish Government have made a commitment to allocate at least 1% of the local budget for communities to decide how the money should be spent, this is called Community Budgeting.

The areas initially identified for Community Budgeting training are Glasgow’s Thriving Places: Govan; Parkhead & Dalmarnock; Priesthill & Househillwood; Ruchill & Possilpark; Easterhouse; Greater Gorbals; Drumchapel; Lambhill & Milton; Springboig & Barlanark.

Part of my job will be to encourage local people to get involved in the training that will be delivered in their local area. Taking part in the training will give them the tools needed to fully take advantage of Community Budgeting when it soon arrives in their area. After the training, they will then become Community Budgeting Champions who will be able to pass on their expertise to the wider communities.

In each of the 9 areas we will be also be working with local schools to deliver a Community Budgeting event. There is a budget for £1000 for each school although I think the monetary value in the process is secondary and the value is in the pupils taking part in the process.

Community budgeting could be the way forward for communities throughout our city in the near future and having pupils understand and being involved in the process at the earliest possible point can only be beneficial for everyone involved in making our communities a better place.

The next thing for me is to start visiting community groups to promote the project. The most effective way to promote work in communities is by pounding the streets and visiting projects personally. This is by far the most time consuming but has the most effect as you are able to meet people face to face and get a feel for each area you are visiting.

It is really tempting to rely on online advertising such as Twitter and Facebook or sending out leaflets to be displayed on notice boards and attending some local meetings and networks. Maybe less time-consuming but does it actually work?

With that in mind I decided that the most effective use of my time to make the community budgeting process a success would be to block off a full afternoon and go knocking on some doors to tell people directly about what was happening in their area.

  • List of community projects to speak to – check
  • Best route mapped out – check
  • Bus timetables on hand – check
  • Information leaflets– check
  • Glasgow rain – check

If you are reading this blog and live in one of the 9 areas, and would like to become a Community Budgeting Champion, or just find out a little more about the project I’d love to hear from you.

readysteady@ghn.org.uk

0141 420 7272

@GHNTweets