David Kidd is an improvement lead with Homeless Network Scotland and a member of the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness’ management team. Here he provides an update on the work being prioritised to ensure that people with diverse and direct experiences of homelessness have an equal decision making role in the Alliance.
The self-styled Glasgow Homelessness Involvement & Feedback Team – or GHIFT for short – are a collective of people with experiences of homelessness in Glasgow who work to represent the views and experiences of others experiencing homelessness in the city.
When GHIFT assembled back in 2015, we set out with a goal in mind: to create a platform for people with experiences of homelessness to have an equal say in decisions and actions being taken to reduce and ultimately end homelessness in Glasgow. At the time that seemed like quite a radical idea but as the years passed, and trust was built, progress towards this goal got faster and for the last couple of years GHIFT have been doing exactly we set out to do – jointly making decisions about how homelessness services in Glasgow should work.
For Homeless Network Scotland, this is a hugely welcome progression of our conviction that people have the right to have their opinions and perspectives heard and our commitment to creating the structures to enable that to be heard and acted on.
In Glasgow, the vehicle for this parity in decision making is called the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness. For anyone that doesn’t know, it is a ten-year partnership founded on unanimous decision making and an ethos of ‘Best for People’. The Alliance is between ten organisations including the HSCP, third and independent sector organisations and GHIFT. Homeless Network Scotland is part of the Alliance as a knowledge-based partner, and to centre and support the value of lived experience. The Alliance have overall responsibility for planning, delivery and transformation of services and support for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Glasgow with the aim of ending homelessness in Glasgow by 2030.
It has been a couple of years now since the ink dried on the Alliance Agreement and it would be fair to say that a lot has happened during that time.
Despite going into lockdown less than 1 month after the Alliance contract was awarded, GHIFT and the Alliance have been working hard to set up the Alliance structures, documentation, working groups, ways of working and so much more… And to begin the process of transforming the way that homelessness services in the city are delivered.
None of this can happen in isolation though. To do it properly will need lots of support and the involvement of as many people as possible – from those using services and the services supporting them to the citizens of Glasgow themselves. Everyone has a part to play in ending homelessness.
With that in mind, the next phase of the Alliance’s work involves working with those in the homelessness sector and beyond to develop a strategy that will drive the Alliance’s approach, direction and priorities over the coming 3 years. As part of this, GHIFT will be running focus groups with people using homelessness services to ensure that the new strategy is directly influenced by what’s important to them. Look out for more details of these coming soon.
There are also a range of other events and activities that will inform the development of the Alliance strategy:
- For those working on the front lines of services within homelessness and related sectors there are Frontline Forum sessions happening on 28 September (online) and on the 5 October (in-person). You can read about GHIFT and Alliance Leadership Team member Mark’s experiences of attending previous Frontline Forums here.
- For anyone else who has an interest in ending homelessness there are Alliance exCHANGE events happening on 22 September (in-person) and the 27 September (online).
- For anyone who is unable to attend these or who would like more details on how to get involved in shaping the strategy you can visit the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness website by clicking here.
This is just the beginning though. To end homelessness will need everyone’s help and if you’ve got experience of homelessness in Glasgow and a determination for change then GHIFT needs your help too! We’ll be recruiting again soon, so to find out more about GHIFT or to add your name to our recruitment contact list – contact me at David@homelessnetwork.scot or phone 0141 420 7272./