Housing First conference

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The 2019 Housing First Conference in Edinburgh was by all accounts the largest and most high profile yet, bringing together key players in the homelessness sector from across the UK. Keynote speakers were the Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP, and the founder of the Housing first approach in New York, Sam Tsemberis, who spoke in the morning about the importance of breaking the cycle where the most vulnerable are trapped in a homelessness system with no escape.

This year a cross section of organisations was represented covering health, third sector, local government and housing. People with lived experience of homelessness from Glasgow Homelessness Involvement and Feedback team (Ghift) took an active role hosting the provocative ‘We Dare You’ session, where people were asked to be brave and challenge the status Quo with ideas and aspirations that go beyond the day-to-day.

Launched on the day was the first in series of joint ‘Know How’ publications with the Chartered institute of Housing in Scotland, which enhances collaboration between the homelessness and housing sectors.  CIH director, Callum Chonczuk, launched the report during a speech in the afternoon session where he spoke candidly about experience of homelessness in his family and the impact Housing first will make to those in the greatest need. More information on the ‘Know How’ report is available here.

Our partners for the event were Wheatley Group and it was supported by Turning Point Scotland and Bethany Christian Trust. We would like to thank all of our speakers, sponsors, partners and delegates for making it a great conference and producing meaningful outcomes, and a full conference report will be published over the summer.

The Housing First Pathfinder is going from strength to strength and at end May, 86 people are now in a home of their own. See the monthly tracker here.

Hard Edges – Scotland

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A much anticipated study into the factors that contribute to severe multiple disadvantage (SMD) is due to be published on the 24 June 2019 by the Lankelly Chase Foundation and partners. The ‘Hard Edges – Scotland’ report will consider the relationship between homelessness, offending and substance misuse and also explore the impact of domestic violence and poor mental health on SMD.

In 2015 the report Hard Edges: Mapping Severe and Multiple Disadvantage in England was published. It immediately made a splash and has continued to generate interest from government and a wide range of organisations for its compelling evidence and detailed findings.

The idea was to capture a sense of what ‘severe and multiple disadvantage’ (SMD) means in England, linking homelessness, substance misuse and criminal justice systems while underlining the strong links with other issues, including overall poverty.

It became apparent that a Scottish study, reaching beyond what had been attempted in England, could adopt a more in-depth and holistic analysis of local circumstances adding weight to the discussions around prevention, and to help address the causes of entrenched homelessness.

As well as the three themes of homelessness, offending and substance misuse covered by the previous report, the Scottish study also adds additional weight to mental health (MH) and domestic violence and abuse (DVA). This gives fuller recognition to a range of complex need experiences which arguably require more policy attention and service response, and which tend to affect women more than the issues captured in the original.

The report will be published on Thursday 13 June and will be available here.

GHIFT Meetings – next meeting 13 June

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Glasgow’s Homelessness Involvement & Feedback Team (GHIFT) are a group of people with lived experiences of homelessness who meet regularly to discuss the changing landscape of homelessness in Glasgow and to ensure that the voices of those who know best what it feels like to use our city’s services are heard in the discussions about change.

We have another public meeting lined up next month. This time we’re heading to The Marie Trust on Thursday 13th of June from 1-3 pm. If you or anyone you work with would like to attend then please feel free to come along and see what GHIFT is all about.

Travel expenses will be provided to anyone with lived experience of homelessness who attends.

The mental health foundation now has a new resource that offers public services a brief guide to the principles of trauma informed care and how to put it into practice. The resource was produced by Centre for Mental Health and the Mental Health Foundation in collaboration with the Association of Mental Health Providers, the National LGB&T Partnership and the Race Equality Foundation. Titled, Engaging with Complexity, it follows the 2018 Women’s Mental Health Taskforce report, which included recommendations on the wider use of trauma informed care.

This report is free to download from the Centre for Mental Health website. For more information on training in this field visit our training and consultancy arm, All-In, here.

Dundee visit to CAP it all

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Dundee City Council is planning to develop a model similar to the Poverty Leadership Panel in Glasgow, with Dundee Fighting for Fairness as the community representatives. Five members of the group attended a meeting in Glasgow this month when they had the opportunity to ask questions about how Glasgow works with local people to make sure their voices are heard.

Jacky Close, Faith in Community Dundee, who accompanied the group, said: “This really helped the Dundee folks move forward their thoughts and plans for the Dundee version of the poverty leadership panel. Members of Dundee Fighting for Fairness are beginning to explore what it means to be a community activist group, speaking from their own experiences and engaging with city leaders.”

During the recent visit to Glasgow the group heard about how the Community Activist Panel seeks to influence policy by feeding in ideas and advice to Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel. Jacky added: “We saw a lot of similarities in the experiences of low income families in Dundee engage with leadership in the city and gave us plenty of food for thought.”

For more information click here. To find out about Glasgow’s Community Activist Panel click here.

Cover the cost

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Crisis has launched an awareness raising campaign titled ‘Cover the Cost. The UK-wide charity has asking supporters to put pressure on the UK Government to invest back into Local Housing Allowance rates in the upcoming spending review. It argues this will help prevent more people from losing their home and experiencing the trauma and anxiety this causes while also reducing the costs for public services over time.

Research carried out with the Chartered Institute of Housing indicated that cuts to Local Housing Allowance, which helps people pay rent under Universal Credit, mean that in 92% of areas in Britain single people, couples, or small families who need this support can afford just one fifth or less of local private rents. The research also revealed that in Scotland 67 per cent, just one-fifth or less, of private rents are affordable within Local Housing Allowance.

It concludes that current practice and policy is putting thousands at risk of homelessness as they face choices between paying the rent or covering other essential expenditure. This can lead people falling into rent arrears and homelessness.

To add your support to #CovertheCost campaign and work towards preventing many more from becoming homeless visit at www.crisis.org.uk/coverthecost and find out how to get involved.

The National What Works Advisor, Dr David Halpern, has welcomed the Centre for Homelessness Impact as a new member of the What Works Network. Its membership has also been backed by Communities Secretary RT Hon James Brockenshire MP, Ministers Kevin Stewart MSP and Julie James AM, and the Centre’s founding partners at Crisis and GHN. The Network brings together a group of What Works Centres that exist to enable policy makers, commissioners and practitioners to make decisions based upon strong evidence of what works and to provide cost-effective, useful services.

The What Works movement emerged over the past few years in other fields to help find more ways to link evidence to policy and practice after NICE led the way creating their evidence-based recommendations for practitioners about effective management and treatments in the health, public health and social care networks sector.

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

“When homelessness occurs, we want to ensure a quick and effective response to end rough sleeping by joining up planning and sharing resources across all frontline services. The causes of homelessness can be complex, so gathering a strong evidence base is critical to developing and implementing effective policy. A central source and knowledge on homelessness, such as the Centre of Homelessness Impact, can help inform the decisions of the Scottish Government and its partners and help us to achieve our aim of ending homelessness in Scotland.”

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of the Homeless Network said:

“Everyone benefits if we do more of what works to solve homelessness and less of what doesn’t. We are so proud that the Centre has been accepted into the What Works Network with all the rigour and learning that will come from that. The Centre is now very well placed to help us shift our thinking and resources toward the most informed actions that can have the biggest impact.”

The Centre for Homelessness Impact champions the creation and use of better evidence to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness by ensuring that policy, practice and funding decisions are underpinned by reliable evidence. It was founded by Crisis and the Homeless Network and is now independent.

The Office for National Statistics and the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) have launched an online consultation to find out how to bolster their homelessness data.

The national stats body the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has indicated it wants to move beyond counting homelessness to understand more about the reasons why people end up on the streets.

Homelessness statistics remains a difficult set of data to harvest effectively, with little intelligence on how to prevent or tackle the issue coming from annual returns. The two organisations have joined together to launch a consultation that sets out to identify new national measures which look for the root causes of homelessness.

The results will be used to create figures for the number of people at risk as well as asking those with lived experience of the homelessness sector to identify issues that are known to contribute to it.

The Centre for Homelessness Impact champions the creation and use of better evidence to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness by ensuring that policy, practice and funding decisions are underpinned by reliable evidence. It was founded by Crisis and the Homeless Network and is now independent.

In a very busy first year, the Centre has also completed its options appraisal on a new monitoring system for street homelessness in Scotland. Read that here: https://www.homelessnessimpact.org/post/scotlands-new-system-to-track-every-person-who-is-street-homeless-in-the-country

The First Minister announced recently that Social Security Scotland would commence delivery of the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment for eligible families with children aged between two and three and a half, which is now up and running. The one-off payment worth £250 will be followed by the School Age Payment for eligible families around the time a child would normally start Primary one, again a one-off payment of £250. This will open for applications on Monday 3 June 2019.

Since the launch the Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment in December 2018 Social Security Scotland has paid out over £2.7 million to low income families and is continuing to process applications to ensure that eligible families get the money they are entitled to receive. Best Start Grant has been designed as a package of three payments intended to give extra money to lower-income families during the early years of a child’s life.

The Government is in the process of planning and creating communication materials for the school age payment and will notify relevant partners once these are available. Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery Team is also available to attend events, meetings or staff training opportunities and invite contact by email at localdelivery@socialsecurity.gov.scot in the first instance.

Scotland is currently in the grip of an awareness movement around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The science is in and the evidence is glaring, that childhood adversity creates harmful levels of stress which impacts on healthy brain development.

An event taking place on 11 June in The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall will explore current thinking. The day will consist of Dr Gabor Maté, world-renowned speaker and bestselling author, on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. Delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions to Dr Maté, plus Darren McGarvey, Orwell Prize winning author of Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass, along with an experienced panel.

Tickets can be booked through eventbrite.