Reflecting on a Year of Influencing Change – and What we Have Learnt Along the Way

Led by Change Leads from across Scotland, All in for Change is supported by partner organisations, Homeless Network Scotland, Cyrenians and the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) – each bringing a unique perspective and focus. 

As we continue to celebrate the 1st year anniversary of the launch of All in for Change, Shelly Coyle, Ginny Cooper and Susan Paxton reflect on their experience supporting the group to grow and evolve since it launched last December.

Ginny, Homeless Network Scotland: “All in for Change is a unique and exciting programme. We provide support and guidance to the Change Team, working together to make sense of the knowledge shared and translating this into key messages and actions to pass on to policy makers and those making critical decisions for homelessness in Scotland. The pandemic has shown how flexible the team can be – adapting to meeting online and taking on shifting priorities in Scotland’s actions to end homelessness. We too have had to adapt to support this.” 

Susan, SCDC: “Looking back I think we’ve come a long way in the past year, it’s been such an amazing learning experience and one that I’m grateful for. We all came into the programme after it had started and I was excited to be meeting the Change Leads for the first time at the monthly retreat in March, then COVID hit and I thought ‘what are we going to do now?’.”

“We decided to go ahead with the retreat as planned but moved it online, and we proved pretty quickly that it could be done (and we’ve been doing them ever since) but there were challenges, both technical and about the relationships we were trying to build. None of us have even met in person yet, but the Team are so determined and passionate about ending homelessness that everyone pulled together, everyone’s contributed, and the Change Leads have responded to every opportunity put in front of them. The amount of work they’ve done has been truly inspirational in what has been a really challenging time.”   

Shelly, Cyrenians: “From my perspective, a really special part of this work has been observing the relationships that Change Leads have formed, watching barriers between those from different sectors, and people with different experience, eroded. This is the goal, I suppose, in all our work in this sector, that we see each other as people, and all experience is equally valued. Perhaps we could be seen as a little microcosm of what the rest of society could be like.” 

Ginny: “This experience has taught me so much already. First and foremost, to be flexible and embrace the different perspectives and personalities of the people who make up the team – allowing us to disagree and work things out together. We are continuously learning. Second, to not rely on too rigid a structure and allocate time for people to share and listen to each other. It has been important to accept when working in this way that, although the programme does have a goal and purpose, the pace and direction has to be shaped by the team.” 

“Like anything new, it can be challenging at times. It is hard at first to see how the passion for change, seen amongst Change Leads, translates to influence and creates impact at policy level. It’s about trusting the process and giving it time.” 

Shelly: “It has been a privilege to see how Change Leads have firstly found their voice as a team, and then become aware of the potential of the place at the table that they have been afforded by linking into the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (HPSG) and speaking directly to policy makers and influencers. I am excited how hungry the team are to capture a wider breadth of experience, to learn more from their networks and then draw on this knowledge and ensure policy makers are listening and responding. It’s a pretty unique situation.”

Susan: “We (SCDC) came into the programme as co-production ‘experts’, which is misleading because we always say there are no experts in co-production! We all have our own unique insights, experiences, knowledge and perspectives and no one is more important than anyone else. As facilitators we had to learn when we were doing too much and taking too much of a lead, and when to step back. I think we navigated that reasonably well because we were determined to listen to what Change Leads were telling us – what was working, what wasn’t and reacting and responding all along the way.” 

“I think creating the space for conversations, both about what’s happening in policy but also about what Change Leads were experiencing during COVID has helped build strong foundations for us to work well together as a Team. We’re still learning, but we know a lot more about striking that balance between getting work done and making sure the way we’re working feels right for everyone involved.”

Ginny: “We have many things we still need to work out. How to better embrace the range of needs and skills in the group and allow these to develop and grow. How to ensure we create a unified goal and voice, but still respect the experiences and knowledge of the individual members.”

“I’m encouraged by the support the Change Team are receiving from decision makers, and the rest of the sector. This has shown us that there is a growing thirst for partnering with people with personal and professional experience to develop and deliver the best policies to end homelessness in Scotland.”

All in for Change is an inclusive programme where, through clear messages and information sharing, a collaborative effort to end homelessness in Scotland is driven. It provides the vehicle for ‘planning and policy’ to plug into ‘practice, place and lived experience’ in an informal, but informed and connected way.

Homeless Network Scotland bring a wealth of experience capturing the voice of lived experience around policy work and influence and their national network connections enhance the programme.

Cyrenians bring a rich perspective that is embedded within frontline homeless service provision in Edinburgh, mid-Lothian and Falkirk and also their links with the Scottish Frontline Network.

Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) are the Scottish leaders in community development and co-production and ensure the programme adheres to the original values.All in for Changeis the participation arm of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (HPSG) and is funded by the Scottish Government and the Frontline Network, from St Martin-in-the-Fields.