Blog: Amanda and David – focus on what works to drive change

Two Change Leads from All in for Change, Amanda Rutherford and David Pentland, share their reflections on facilitating the national roadshow.  

In helping to produce ‘Taking the Temperature’, the latest report from the All in for Change roadshow, we held workshops and focus groups across Scotland to find out more about the current reality of the homelessness system. We were delighted to engage with more than 100 people working in homelessness and using homelessness services and we owe our heartfelt thanks to those who took the time to come along and share their views on working or being cared for in many different homelessness settings.  

What was apparent in every conversation was a mixed bag of participants with lots of sectors represented and common themes emerged when we talked about challenges, such as the well-known challenge frontline workers and people experiencing homelessness face when services don’t interact with each other. A particular example that we heard in many different places was the lack of connection between mental health, addiction, and homelessness services.  

We also made sure to hear about the good stuff – the more we talked with different people, in different places, the more we learned about the brilliant work currently taking place.  

Whether that’s Aberdeenshire’s use of remote appointments to remove barriers to people making homelessness applications, or South Ayrshire’s approach to providing wrap-around support in Housing First, we found examples of inspirational work taking place all over Scotland. 

In Edinburgh, Cyrenians are running a hospital in-reach programme with the NHS to help patients and staff navigate the homelessness system and prevent discharge into homelessness, while in Kilmarnock, a wellbeing unit within the police is focusing on early intervention, to tackle the root causes of homelessness. 

The list could go on and on – there just isn’t space to cover them all in one blog. But while there are countless examples of good practice taking place at present, it is also clear that many of these projects do not get the recognition they deserve. That means, all too often, good practice in one area is not replicated in another.  

In that context, it is vital we coordinate – that we work together, to learn from each other – to move towards more joined up services, where good practice in one area inspires the same quality of delivery in another. It is also vital that people with experience of homelessness drive this change. 

Because listening to people with experience of the homelessness system can never be an after-thought. People with lived experience of homelessness, and those with expertise from delivering frontline services, must play a central role in mobilising plans for ending homelessness.  

The homelessness system needs to work for the people who need it. That means we need to make services more streamlined, with better links between different sectors – such as health, justice and housing – as well. 

If we do that, we can build a system that works for everyone. 

The full Taking the Temperature report can be found here.  

All in for Change are recruiting new members! If you want to be part of this team, using your experience to collaborate with decision-makers and engaging with people using and providing services, get in touch for an application pack –  

Blog: Pedro Cameron – equal connections

Read this reflection from Change Lead Pedro Cameron on joining the All in for Change Team, the importance of partnership working and his priorities as a Change Lead. 

As Engagement Lead for the Homeless Housing Options Scotland (HHOS) project, it’s important for me to make sure that me and my project are connecting with the sector as far and wide as possible. Partnership working, and joined up approaches are, in my view, essential to delivering effective homelessness services. Another crucial thread to this is the input and participation of those with lived experience. All In For Change is a prime example of how this approach can work. 

I have worked for Housing Options Scotland for over 7 years now, and in 2021 we launched our HHOS project – marking a move from our usual housing advice service into one that can offer emergency advice and support to disabled people, older people and members of the Armed Forces community who find themselves in housing crisis.  

During my first two years working on HHOS, I became more and more aware of the work that All In For Change was doing through various online events, and through talking to people involved, and I was always impressed by the knowledge and wisdom shared by its members. I eventually attended in person one of the All In For Change Roadshow events in 2022 – and while in that room I was finally convinced to join the team. 

Collaboration and connection are key to ending homelessness 
One of my key priorities in the role has been establishing ways that we can work together with our clients, other organisations, local authorities and the government to help to ensure that there are positive relationships between all involved in the homelessness process. I think that the key to this is collaboration and connection.  

Being part of the Change Team, and the wide range of people who work on it, fits in perfectly with that aim. Everyone involved with All In For Change is dedicated to ending homelessness, and there is a great sense of community, with a shared goal, which I believe should be the way the whole sector works together. 

Highlighting hidden homelessness – with a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion 

There are a few other priorities that I wish to bring to, and enhance within the Change Team. As a housing professional, who has themselves experienced homelessness, it is extremely beneficial to be on a team which marries lived experience with professional experience. When I was homeless in my late teens, sleeping at a friend’s in a cupboard under the stairs, I had no idea that I actually qualified as homeless.  

I am passionate about perceptions of homelessness, who can be affected by it, and what it actually looks like. At HHOS, the majority of our clients are not roofless, and are actually what we would consider as “hidden homeless”. I think it’s important that those voices are heard too. 

Finally, I am extremely passionate about equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in homelessness. Those with protected characteristics are more likely to experience homelessness, and experience additional barriers, so it makes sense for us to look more closely at the impact of that. It’s really important to me that minority groups are considered at every part of service design and delivery, and not retrofitted.  

I have spent a lot of my professional life working in this field and I want to bring that to the Change Team and make sure the experiences of protected groups are heard and considered in the fight to end homelessness. 

All In For Change is going to be instrumental in making sure homelessness is ended, and I’m delighted that I get to be involved in the team. 

All in for Change are recruiting new members! If you want to be part of this team, using your experience to collaborate with decision-makers and engaging with people using and providing services, get in touch for an application pack –  

Homelessness Services in Scotland review published 

The Scottish Housing Regulator has published the findings of its thematic review of council homelessness services. Homelessness services in Scotland: A thematic review – February 2023 | Scottish Housing Regulator.  

While some councils have had success moving towards an approach with rapid rehousing at the centre, others are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the challenges they face, with evidence of increasing breaches of statutory duties around the provision of temporary accommodation. The three major challenges highlighted are: 

  • Dealing with significant numbers of people in temporary accommodation. 
  • Maintaining a sufficient supply of temporary accommodation. 
  • Ensuring access to the number of permanent homes needed. 

Over-representation of ethnic minorities experiencing homelessness: new policy paper 

A new policy paper published by the Centre for Homelessness Impact calls for specific interventions to relieve and prevent homelessness among people from ethnic minorities to address stark inequalities among people who are assessed as homeless. The report, written by Nissa Finney, Professor of Human Geography at the University of St Andrews, highlights how inequalities experienced by different ethnic groups across the UK contribute to higher rates of homelessness, including that black people are more than three times as likely to experience homelessness as white people in England and twice as likely in Scotland. 

The paper urges local authorities and accommodation providers to focus on systemic inequalities in housing provision and says governments should bring race equality approaches to homelessness programmes. Read the paper here.

Equality in Housing podcast

Housing Options Scotland and CaCHE (UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence) have joined forces to produce a series of stories about why inclusive and accessible housing and related services are key to people’s lives.

In this podcast, Janice Stevenson, Development Officer at LGBT Youth Scotland, a youth work service providing youth groups for LGBT young people across Scotland raises various issues that we know many organisations face, which includes a lack of data to help providers deliver appropriate services. Janice’s work focuses on influencing policy in Scotland for LGBT youth populations. A broad range of important issues are covered, including: 

  • discrimination in housing for LGBT people 
  • challenges with people not recognising their own rights to housing 
  • issues with gatekeeping in accessing services. 

Listen to the podcast here