Housing and Homelessness: Where now for service user involvement?

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The involvement of people who have lived experience of homelessness or poor housing is really beginning to influence the development of both practice and policy. The Scottish Homelessness Involvement and Empowerment Network, the Scottish Co-production Network, and Shelter Scotland invited people with experience of homelessness and people working in the field to explore how we can build on current best practice in participation and find ways to embed co-production as the standard way of working in homelessness services.

The event took place on April 20th, 2016 in St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church, Edinburgh and was attended by nearly 100 people. The morning session featured speakers from different backgrounds including Elaine Ritchie (Tayside, Fife Central Housing Options Hub), Ashley Young (Simon Community Scotland), Dr Neil Hamlet (NHS Fife) and Nick Wilding (Scottish Government) who provided their perspectives on co-production with table discussions and group sessions exploring how we can collectively support a move towards co-produced homelessness services.

SHIEN’s National Coordinator, David Kidd, spoke on the day to outline our shared learning over the years, focusing on:

  • Valuing the unique insights of everyone equally – no one experience is more important than another;
  • Facilitating empowered environments – to ensure everyone feels comfortable getting involved;
  •  Understanding our different perspectives – to make sure that we understand everyone’s starting point when it comes to co-production; and

Starting where you are – waiting for the perfect opportunity to start often means we miss opportunities to meaningfully involve people in what we are doing.

The afternoon session featured three case studies of co-produced projects from Smart Living, Navigate at GHN and Shelter Scotland’s Glasgow Participation Project which stimulated further table discussions around some of the challenges and barriers that projects and organisations face when implementing co-produced methods of working and how best to overcome these.

The day was hugely successful and will provide a platform from which to continue raising awareness, sharing best practice, and working toward embedding co-production as the way of working in homelessness

Photos from the day can be found here and the full event report and presentations will be published shortly.