Conference: Housing First is ‘Here to Stay’

Taking place in person once again after two years online, the annual Housing First Conference on 31 March will hear that Housing First is ‘Here To Stay’ in Scotland, which is also the title of the one-day event at Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) – now open for bookings. 

The Scottish Government this week announced that more than 1000 Housing First tenancies have been created across the country’s local authorities. The conference will be an opportunity to explore what we now know – and need – for the long-haul, as well as consider some of the pressing questions as the policy continues to scale up across the country. 

With a welcome return to in person events, delegates are invited to reconnect at the EICC after the conference and join colleagues and speakers for a glass of wine or a soft drink and snacks. An informal opportunity to catch up or make new connections. 

Firmly established as national policy in 2018, by the conference 27 Scottish councils will have embedded Housing First locally, providing ordinary, settled housing as a first response to redress disadvantage and for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences such as trauma, mental ill-health or addiction.  

This year’s event will explore the following themes. 

  • From sprint to stamina: what is needed to reach the pace and scale of demand estimates for Housing First across Scotland? 
  • How can people with most to gain be a bigger part of putting Housing First in Scotland?  
  • How do we collectively ensure frontline workers feel supported, inspired and enabled? 
  • How can health and social care step up to this challenge – as joint planners, commissioners and providers? 

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said:  

“Here to Stay is a celebration of the many hundreds of people now building and living their lives in their own home as part of a community. And marking a successful end to the remarkable Pathfinder which achieved results in line with international best practice, despite challenges as a result of the pandemic. With these firm foundations, Here to Stay will also provide an honest exploration of the pace and scale of the challenge that still lies ahead.” 

The conference gets underway with A Well-Lit Path, focusing on learning and experiences at the end of Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder that launched officially in April 2019. Hosted by Sir Andrew Cubie, Chair of Social Bite and former Chair of the Housing First Advisory Group, the session features a distinguished panel of experts who have been involved in the Pathfinder, including: Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive, Cyrenians; Professor Sarah Johnsen, ISPHERE at Heriot-Watt University; Nicky Miller, Head of Homelessness, Turning Point Scotland; Ruth Ogilvie, Head of Services, Aberdeen Cyrenians; Bryan Smith, Head of Operations, Transform Community Development, Dundee and Emma Thomson, Head of Care at Wheatley Care.  

The morning segment continues with Housing Ends Homelessness. For Housing First to scale up in line with demand estimates, the supply of and access to affordable housing is key. Hosted by Callum Chomczuk, National Director Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, this session will explore what is needed for and from the housing sector. Panel members include: David Bookbinder, Director, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations; Lorna Cameron, Chief Executive, Horizon Housing Association; Nicola McQuiston, Wheatley Group and other guests to be confirmed

Following a break for lunch, the afternoon session signals breakouts on topics such as New Deal for Tenants; Women and Housing First; Breaking the Cycle and Housing First Endings. One session, Housing First – The Help! will provide an expert overview of the new Housing First annual check-up process for local authorities and partners rolling out across the five Housing Options Hubs. 

The conference will be rounding off with a session on Home & Belonging from Heather Coady while Tyler Carey, Associate of Homeless Network Scotland, will be in conversation exploring what it is to be ‘trauma informed’, and how can Housing First lead and influence a culture of compassion. 

Book tickets on the Housing First Scotland website here and sponsorship / exhibitor packages are available to suit a range of budgets and requirements. Please email to discuss or browse the right option for your organisation here. Follow on Twitter #HeretoStay