Claire Frew, Policy & Impact Manager at the Homeless Network blogs ahead of the Annual Homelessness Conference 2018
During the winter of 2017-18 more than 400 people affected by homelessness took the time to share their priorities for ending homelessness in Scotland. These were people willing to share their stories and experiences to help us cut to the chase about what needs to change.
One of the words that came up most commonly through the discussions was ‘stuck’.
People feeling stuck between services that don’t always talk to each other. Stuck between sectors that can feel like they are working to different aims and principles. Stuck in temporary places or the same difficult situation – moving around rather than out, and too often moving backwards.
And all of this despite engaging with services and supports – despite explaining their situations and seeking assistance from a range of professional services. People told us they told someone but it was the ‘wrong person’ – and if you speak to the wrong person then not much happens.
And when you have the same conversation with frontline staff it is not unusual to find that their frustrations are the same as people using their services, with staff talking in terms of needing better communication and collaboration.
People may be using different words but are ultimately talking about the same thing.
The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group took people’s feedback on board and made a series of recommendations around the principle of No Wrong Door. An approach built on quickly and easily finding the right door at the right time for the right help.
The No Wrong Door conference in Glasgow next week will bring together more than 200 experts to learn more about what the approach means for our policies and frontline practice; considering important questions about what it means for our own organisations as well as those we work alongside. The conference will make the space for vital conversations to make sure that we don’t just adopt the language of No Wrong Door but embed the principles in everything we do.
There will also be a special announcement and a roundtable challenge! We look forward to welcoming you to this major conference to take the next step in reshaping how we prevent and respond to homelessness. If you can’t join us in person, take part on twitter at #NoWrongDoor18
Get ready, steady… to GO with Community Budgets is coming to your area in August and September. Since January, we have worked with over 30 community members who have learned about community budgeting, and are now out and about in the local communities increasing awareness about how services may be funded in the near future. What’s the benefits for volunteers?
- Two days of training on community budgeting, engaging with communities, working with others, presentation skills, and goal planning
- Opportunity to work toward a recognised qualification
- Ongoing support to effectively engage with the local community
- Expenses provided when volunteering
Where are we?
- Drumchapel and surrounding areas on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st August
- Springboig and Barlanark and surrounding areas Friday 24th and Monday 27th August
- Lambhill and Milton and surrounding areas on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th September
Can’t make any of these? We are holding weekend training on Saturday 8th September and evening training on Wednesday 12th September. To find out more, or book your free place, please call us on 0141 420 7272, or email email@example.com
Since 2011, a night shelter for approximately 25 destitute men seeking asylum and non-EU migrants who have no recourse to public funds has operated in Glasgow. The night shelter has been situated in various premises since 2011, and for the last few years has been operating in a church situated in the west end of Glasgow.
Staffed mainly by volunteers, the Glasgow Night Shelter provides much needed support for the people using the shelter, including providing meals, signposting to specialist organisations, and it works closely with many other organisations in the city to ensure people are able to access support, advice and guidance.
In a few weeks’ time, the shelter will open its doors for the last time, and unless some form of accommodation can be found on a temporary basis, then these men will have nowhere safe to stay. The shelter is no longer able to operate in the church, and is currently seeking new premises as a matter of urgency.
Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership are currently working hard to secure more permanent accommodation for the shelter moving forward, and to ensure that people will continue to receive the support that they need. In addition, the Homeless and Rough Sleeping Action Group’s recommendations, which were accepted by the Scottish Government, highlight that there has to be a greater safety net for people in the asylum system, and for people with no recourse to public funds, and we are hopeful that more support will be available in the future.
However, at this moment in time, the shelter – which has been a lifeline for many people over the years – and charities are concerned for the safety of the people they support when the shelter closes at the end of August.
The Glasgow Night Shelter is looking for a space large enough for 25 people to have somewhere safe and warm to sleep. Currently opening until 8pm – 8am, the shelter provides hot evening meals, breakfast, a packed lunch and has access to basic washing facilities.
If you can help, or perhaps know someone who can, please contact the night shelter directly by emailing Annika at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on the shelter, visit the night shelter website here: https://glasgownightshelter.org/
For the last few months, we at GHN/ All In have been delivering free training and workshops on Community Budgeting (CB) in areas all across the city of Glasgow. Don’t let the name Community Budgeting put you off – it’s not about teaching you how to spend your own money exactly!
In a nutshell, CB is the future. By the year 2021, instead of councils deciding how to spend all the money across the country, significant amounts of cash will be allocated to local communities, who then vote on what the money is spent on.
This means that local people who live, work or volunteer in the area have the say on where the money goes. You, as members of the community, will have the power to decide what will benefit your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours…the opportunities are endless.
Recently, we caught up with Sam and John – the ‘Community Champions’ from the Govan area. Both have attended the training and workshops, and are now confidently spreading the word to local groups and individuals. Sam and John’s message was clear. People in communities need to hear about Community Budgeting and need to be aware the impact it will have on communities.
When asked to sum up CB in one sentence, they said it’s “For the Community, By the Community”, and we couldn’t have put it much better ourselves.
Over the last few months, Sam and John have been busy spreading the word about CB. Passionate about involving and informing local people, to empower them to have their voices heard about what is important in the local area, they have engaged with many people from all backgrounds, keen to ensure that people know what the future holds in terms of how money will be spend.
We wanted to know how being Community Champions has made them feel, what they have gained from the training and workshops, and to find out if there is anything they would like to say to encourage others to become involved.
What delighted us was not only the way they have spent huge amounts of time meeting others and letting them know about CB, but also what Sam and John had gained from a personal perspective.
Both informed us that they felt as though being Community Champions had increased their confidence first and foremost. They were of the view that before becoming CB Champions, they perhaps might not have spoken to so many people, and they added that they have met some people who will have a positive impact on their own lives through meeting with a variety of services and groups that they did not know were available to members of the community.
Sam, throughout her involvement, stated that being a Community Champion has made her think more about her own future. She currently has a young child, and likes the flexibility afforded to her by being a Champion. She is considering studying Community Development in the future now, and feels confident enough to achieve qualifications in this area. While Sam was involved in local groups on some level, she has really enjoyed getting out and about, meeting new people who she perhaps otherwise may not have encountered.
Oh, and good luck with organising the street party Sam. Don’t forget our invites!
John has been unemployed since last August, and like Sam, was an active member of the community. He stated that he feels now they have both become a link between the ‘big organisations’ and the local people, and being a Community Champion has made him realise that so many people want to do something to benefit the local community. John added that being a Champion feels like he has been able to bring the community closer together, while networking and finding out about what the area has to offer in terms of local groups, classes etc. has been eye-opening for him. On his travels, John met someone who runs employability classes, and is working with them now to look at options for full time employment in the near future. John stated that, if he had not been a Community Champion, he would never have known this service existed.
We have been lucky to have Sam and John on board, and Govan is lucky to have them. The passion, enthusiasm and excitement they show for CB is infectious, and we have no doubt that both will go far in whichever area they decide.
But for now, we hope they continue to give us their precious time, and encourage others to become Community Champions in their own areas.
We will be running the free training and workshops in an area near you soon – follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more.
Doug Gibson from the Homeless Network (GHN) reflects on Housing First in anticipation of this week’s major conference.
I regularly feel and/or look like an idiot. There are many reasons for this but for the sake of brevity and reputation let’s focus on one: Housing First.
You see, I’m lucky to have a network of family and friends who take an interest in my life and what I do. In turn, they take an interest in my work.
So they ask what I do.
I tell them I work for a homelessness charity.
They ask what the job entails, what I’m currently working on.
I tell them I’m particularly passionate about the work being done around Housing First.
They ask, “What’s Housing First?”
I excitedly tell them that Housing First is a radical new approach that’s increasingly getting traction in the global response to homelessness.
“Radical, you say,” they say.
“Yes, indeed,” I say as I begin to give them some context. About how we’ve traditionally done things. How we developed a tiered model, or ‘staircase’ model. How people in the desperate position of homelessness would need to prove over time that they were ‘ready’ for a home. How it was all in some sense a complex, marathon game of Snakes and Ladders, giving people every opportunity to fail. Every opportunity to fall back into homelessness, addictions, poor mental health. Every opportunity to get caught in the system, in the experience, and in the dehumanising label: “the homeless.”
They express dismay at this and ask what this new, radical model does differently.
I tell them that Housing First focuses on rapidly getting someone into a safe, secure, long-term tenancy and wrapping them with caring, flexible, indefinite support.
It’s at this point that they look a little nonplussed and I look a lot like an idiot.
Because what I’ve just described is common sense.
It is the solution you would get from a child if you asked them how to help someone who is homeless. And this simple, common-sense solution is the single most effective model to successfully bring people with multiple and complex needs out of homelessness. That has been proven time and again in the significant, credible, still-growing evidence for Housing First.
The questions now are not ones of proof. The questions now are ones of logistics: How do we make Housing First work at scale? How do we embed it in the mainstream response to homelessness in every area of the country? How do we keep it consistent and tight to the core principles whilst recognising the complex social, political, and structural differences of thirty two local authorities?
Luckily, in Scotland we have literally thousands of decent, determined people across every sector working every day (and night) to answer these questions, and to deliver systems and solutions that make homelessness the rare, brief, urgent exception it ought to be.
This week in Stirling over two hundred such people will come together at this year’s sell-out Housing First Scotland Conference to share and discuss all things Housing First; to reflect on the momentum being built but equally on the challenges and doubts that remain.
A busy, exciting day in a busy, exciting time. One that feels like an incredible opportunity for us as a sector – as a society – to work together to transform the way we see and address homelessness.
Housing First is not a magic wand and it is not a catch-all solution. But it will be at the heart of what comes next. This week’s conference is a platform on which to create exactly what that will be.
Scotland is in the spotlight this week as nearly 250 people gather on Tues 26 June 2018 at the Albert Halls in Stirling for the Housing First Scotland conference. Opened by Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, the day will hear how Scotland has now placed Housing First firmly at the heart of a broader housing-led and homelessness prevention approach.
Housing First means a settled home quickly, then the space and intensive support to address other issues people have. The international evidence tells us it works best for people who are facing severe and multiple disadvantages, including people sleeping rough. It supports people to leave homelessness behind – the system, the experience, the label – for good.
This year, Scotland will begin a steady expansion of Housing First. Many cities across the world have been scaling up successfully, but too few countries have sized up the opportunity to take Housing First to scale nationally. Scotland embarking on this approach will attract international observers and commentators, and it is important that we get it right.
The conference is a key milestone in getting all hands – and views – on deck. On the day:
- Josh Littlejohn, Founder of Social Bite, will launch the Housing First Scotland Fund to kick-start the new approach and deliver Housing First support to hundreds of people across key cities by 2020;
- Patrick McKay, Turning Point Scotland will launch the first Housing First Training Academy which will share and maintain best practice across Scotland and beyond;
- Jon Sparkes, from Crisis UK will reflect on how the work of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group paved the way for new energy and commitments
Maggie Brünjes, Director of The Homeless Network (GHN) which hosts Housing First Scotland, said:
Our recent collaboration with over 400 people with direct experience of homelessness gave us the clearest message; that most people want housing with support that is right alongside them while they leave homelessness behind. There is no doubt that Housing First is the right way forward, but we need to get it right. Delivering it at the right scale means working together to resolve some of the bigger blocks that stand in our way, and assisting frontline workers with what they need to lead from the front.
Hear more and get involved at:
www.ghn.org.uk #HFScot18 @HFScotland @GHNtweets
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GHN are delighted to be appointed as project managers for the new Housing First Scotland programme. It will be one of the largest in the UK, and will bring hundreds of people experiencing homelessness into secure and supported tenancies. The Corra Foundation will manage the funds, which they have now opened here: https://www.corra.scot/grant-programmes/housing-first-scotland-fund/
It’s been made possible by the phenomenal fundraising efforts of Social Bite. Josh Littlejohn, co-founder said:
“Housing First means that home is the best foundation from which to address any other challenges or disadvantages people face. It means safety and security, and a fresh opportunity for people to build and live their lives as part of a community. I would like to thank the 8,000 people that slept out last December and raised so much money, if it wasn’t for them, this simply wouldn’t be happening.”
The Housing First Scotland Fund is further supported through funding from the Merchants House of Glasgow. Margaret-Ann Brunjes, GHN’s Director said:
“This takes us a signficant step closer to ensuring that people who are braving the most disadvantages are brought into the heart of local communities. The success of this Programme will depend on the very best support being provided by the very best support workers. With a very small caseload, the Housing First approach will be personalised and persistent, flexible and asset-based – getting right alongside people to help them make their house a home.”
Traci participated in a Keys to Learn tenancy sustainment course early in 2018. As well as addressing a number of issues in her own life, Traci attended each day for 10 weeks, and successfully completed the course. She met and was supported by a past course participant who is now a peer supporter of Keys to Learn, and very quickly recognized that her journey and goals were very similar. Realising volunteering with the project would help her gain experience in working with communities, Traci signed up to support future courses. Within a month of completing the course, Traci started an Introduction to Social Care delivered by Glasgow Kelvin College, and supporting a Keys to Learn course in Paisley. The group, who each have similar life experiences to Traci tell us ‘she could run this whole course’ – something we would love to see one day! In recognition of her immense learning and life progressions, Glasgow Kelvin College and GHN have nominated Traci for a Learner of the Year Award.
Jordan has participated in learning and volunteering with Glasgow Homelessness Network since 2014, first joining us through a Keys to Learn tenancy sustainment course. Jordan trained to become a Navigate Peer Advocate, to help others solve their housing and benefits issues, as well as a peer supporter for future Keys to Learn courses. This all helped him realise he wanted to work somewhere that helped people address their issues, which has led him to his current employer – the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Although learning and volunteering has equipped him the experience to get into work, Jordan is still interested in volunteering, especially with projects that are community based. This is why he recently became a Community Budgeting Community Champion – helping communities across Glasgow get ready for the changes to how services will be funded. He states: ‘the things I experienced and learned through volunteering helped me understand who I am and what I want. I would not have had half of the chances I have had if not for volunteering and I would not have become the person I am today. I also wouldn’t have had the chance to meet all of the truly amazing people I have met.’
GHN’s David and Jim reflect on #AyeWeCan so Far…
Aye We Can is a 6 month collaboration to make sure the wit and wisdom of people with experience of homelessness shapes the recommendations to Scottish Ministers from the Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Action Group.
Today we visited the Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP to deliver the messages we’ve gathered over the last few months from 425 people across Scotland who are homeless today or have been recently.
A big thanks to all of you for your time, advice and ideas. And for sharing your story so that homelessness and rough sleeping affects less people in the future. We’ve been impressed and inspired by you!
And thanks to the Minister for welcoming us. It was an early start to a very important day for us, and we felt listened to and assured that we can be a part of Scotland’s new plans to end homelessness.
Making sure the views of people with lived experience of homelessness inform this work has been an important priority for the Action Group from the very beginning. This work has been facilitated by GHN with support from Crisis and Scottish Government.
During December, 122 people with experience of homelessness took part in 5 Speakout events across the country – in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Perth and Aberdeen. People discussed their own routes into homelessness, their experiences of using services, and their priorities for ending rough sleeping and homelessness in Scotland. You can read more about what people said here Aye We Can | December 2017 Report (PDF)
The focus shifted in January 2018 to offer a variety of opportunities for people to participate in their preferred way locally, with many taking part in small focus groups, in one-to-one interviews in person and on the phone, with some completing online surveys. We wanted to make sure that as well as bigger cities, people in smaller towns and rural areas also got to share their priorities for ending homelessness.
We have heard from people from all over Scotland – from Inverness, Oban, Shetland, Stirling, Falkirk – to Penicuik, Paisley, Irvine and Hamilton! We’ve also had the chance to learn more about the specific experiences and priorities of young people, women, people leaving prison, people with addictions, New Scots, people with ‘no recourse to public funds’ and many others who are particularly at risk of homelessness.
Your advice has directly shaped the 20 recommendations from the Action Group that Kevin Stewart agreed yesterday. We’re now preparing our final report to inform the next set of recommendations on temporary accommodation and ending homelessness in Scotland – so watch this space.
But so far people’s priorities have been clear. If we are serious about ending rough sleeping in Scotland our key messages are:
- Housing First and Fast: getting people their own home as quickly as possible. Most people don’t want to stay in ‘homeless’ accommodation – hostels and B&Bs are very unpopular;
- Joined Up: the Council, NHS services and charities should work more closely together;
- Staff Awareness: all staff should be decent, respectful and understand the background and often traumatic life experiences people have had;
- Stop it: do more to prevent homelessness happening in the first place;
- Count it: make sure rough sleeping and homelessness is monitored so that we know if it is reducing or not;
- Collaborate with lived experience and make better use of peer-based approaches, learning directly from people with lived experience;
- Be open: make sure the new £50m budget (over 5 years) to tackle homelessness is spent in a very open and honest way. People want to see a plan for that and also some feedback on how their advice and views are being taken forward.
People have told us that the idea of ending homelessness in Scotland has felt very distant, but that the work of the Action Group is making change feel possible.
There are a lot of people working very hard to not let you down. And there will also be different ways to keep collaborating with us so that you can be part of this change if you want to be. Stay in touch with David or Jim on 0141 420 7272 or email us at email@example.com or follow us @GHNtweets or on Facebook