As we all continue to navigate the personal and professional challenges posed by a global pandemic, the links between housing and health – and the safety of ourselves and our community – have been laid bare. From the very start of lockdown, two urgent questions were posed: how can you stay at home if you don’t have one? And how can you be safe at home if your house isn’t safe?
On the first of three days of debate and deliberation, Safe as Houses focussed on the themes of “A Global Pandemic” and “Whatever the Problem, the Answer is Relationships”, to reflect on the impact of the ongoing pandemic on housing and homelessness in Scotland. And importantly, to start building a shared understanding of how we can all move forward together.
The theme of “A Global Pandemic” reflected the global response to homelessness, which continues during this pandemic, with different approaches and different results. During this session we explored the learning from different parts of the world and reviewed how Scotland’s response compared.
A discussion with Juha Kaakinen, the Chief Executive of Y-Saatio, Finland, focussed on the important lessons that Finland, a global leader in tackling homelessness, provides for Scotland – in both its challenges and failure – as well as inspiration in the form of their new goal to eradicate all forms of homelessness by 2027.
Homeless Network Scotland Chief Executive, Maggie Brünjes, then hosted a live lounge panel discussion with a truly global panel including Janine Kellett (Head of Homelessness, Scottish Government), Dr Indu Prakash Singh (City Makers Mission International and SLSMC, Delhi), Freek Spinnewijn (Director, FEANTSA), Lydia Stazen (Director, Institute of Global Homelessness) and Louise Winterburn (Deputy Chief Executive, World Habitat). This wide ranging discussion on the lessons to be learnt from the varying international responses to homelessness during the pandemic also touched on what impressed the panel – and what didn’t – about Scotland’s response to the pandemic.
There are few things that matter more than love and relationships – all our lives are defined by it, for better or worse. The theme “Whatever the Problem, the Answer is Relationships” explored the role of social connectedness as the lynch-pin for personal and professional wellbeing, and why ‘kindness’ is returning to the language of support. With Pat McCardle, the Chief Executive of the Mayday Trust, we got to the heart of the matter, exploring how we can walk alongside people going through tough times, building from trust, strengths and choices.
Senior and frontline colleagues including Becky Elton (Deputy CEO, Changing Lives), Alison Kennedy (City of Edinburgh Council and Change Lead, All in For Change), Janet MacKeller (Help Argyll and Bute Ltd and Change Lead, All in For Change) and Lorraine McGrath (Chief Executive, Simon Community Scotland) hosted a shared learning session focussing on how we can make choices based on connections and kindness – in an environment focused on targets and outcomes.
Scotland will have no dormitory style night shelters this winter – a huge step at a critical time. We heard directly from the sector leaders, Bethany Christian Trust and Charles Maasz (Chief Executive, Glasgow City Mission), making this happen and learnt more about the alternative measures being put in place to make sure that nobody is alone this winter.
We rounded out a jam-packed day with a self-reflection training event focusing on changes to homelessness services during lockdown and the opportunity to imagine a new landscape, with Homeless Network’s Change Lead, Peter Anderson. At this speed-training session, Peter launched Homeless Network’s new Learning Lounge, an expanded programme of learning and training options from Homeless Network Scotland.
If you didn’t manage to join us today, there’s still time to register for the remaining days of Safe As Houses, when you can choose from sessions covering “A Day in the Sun for Good Law and Policy”, “Same Storm, Different Boat” and “If We Don’t All Row, The Boat Won’t Go!”. Find out more about what’s still to come in Safe As Houses, and book your unique conference experience here.
Thank you to everyone who helped Safe As Houses get off to such a flying start. We hope to see you for day 2!