Calls to build and be bold strike a chord at #FineTuned 

Hundreds of delegates connected at Scotland’s annual homelessness conference to share and discuss ideas on how to reverse rising homelessness – from being braver and more human together to making real the solutions we know will work. 

Fine Tuned: striking the right chord on homelessness was held in the same week as the scale of the problems the sector faces were laid bare by Edinburgh’s declaration of a housing emergency. 

But the mood in Perth Concert Hall was one of positivity and collaboration in the face of adversity – with the urgent need to build more homes, mitigate Westminster immigration policy, support cash-strapped local authorities and turn progressive Scottish legislation into action the key takeaways. 

Frontline workers, policy experts, local authority chiefs and people with experience of homelessness heard from event sponsor Wheatley Group, Perth & Kinross Council – who are achieving groundbreaking results on homelessness – and Housing Minister Paul McLennan. 

Housing Minister Paul McLennan

More homes and more money

In his keynote address the minister emphasised the Scottish Government’s priority to secure new investment in housing, reduce numbers in temporary accommodation, address rural challenges, the importance of the upcoming prevention duties – and the sector’s need for more money.

Taking questions from the floor on the new Ministerial Oversight Group on homelessness, he was pressed on the need for a joined-up approach to homelessness through the new National Care Service and the housing and budget pressures local authorities face.

In keeping with the event’s musical theme, Homeless Network Scotland chief executive Maggie Brünjes boiled down the five ‘key changes’ we need to take to combat homelessness: build more homes, reduce poverty and inequality, challenge UK Government policy, modernise homeless services and ensure a No Wrong Door approach. With the conference supporting her calls for a route-map to sequence, cost, target and time each of the actions in the Ending Homelessness Together Plan.

Humanity, bravery, music – and biscuits

Buzzing sofa sessions posed questions on how we can be more human and braver in all we do, with wide-ranging conversations covering the personal and the political, organisational and system angles – fuelled by a “favourite biscuit” icebreaker from host Maff Potts.

Our sofa panel considered the vulnerability of being human and the power of deep connection, and the hall was asked to hold a person facing homelessness in their thoughts as Maff played Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free on the piano – a profound shared moment.

After lunch, the session on bravery focused on changing systems by making services more joined-up and person-centred, pushing back on hostile UK Government immigration policy, continuing to bang the same drum on homelessness, and even turning up for work each day despite the challenges.

What’s working to help hardest hit

Humanity and bravery were core to breakout sessions that delved into the many efforts underway across the country to support people facing some of the hardest adversity.

Cyrenians and Scottish Women’s Aid outlined the progress of the Everyone’s WISH initiative, which harnesses the resources of the private sector to fund homes for women who have experienced domestic abuse – the largest cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland.

The Fair Way Scotland session heard from Heriot-Watt’s I-SPHERE institute about the first-year impact and future priorities of the partnership, which aims to prevent homelessness and destitution ​among people denied access to state support because of their immigration status.

A workshop on Rapid Rehousing heard about the transformational success of Perth & Kinross Council in reducing the number of people in temporary accommodation through flipping, buybacks and a Housing First approach, as well as challenges including the cost-of-living crisis.

And CATH Perth set out their achievements in employing Growth Mindset theory to help people facing barriers including homelessness and mental health through their Positive Pathways programme.

Brilliant exhibitors – and a rousing finale 

Throughout the day delegates visited exhibitions in the hall’s sunny foyer from Dogs Trust, Scottish Pantry Network, Cyrenians, Scottish Veterans Residences, MyBNK, Right There, Say WOMEN, Social Security Scotland and Grace Chocolates – who provided Halloween-themed table treats for the 250-strong crowd.  

And a day of open-minded enquiry and inspiration ended fittingly with the energising sound of drum and pipe band Clanadonia bringing down the curtain.  

Thank you to all the guests who made #FineTuned a success this year – including event sponsors Wheatley Group, Blue Triangle, Salvation Army, CATH Perth, Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry and Kingdom Housing Association. 

With thanks to all our brilliant exhibitors and sponsors

Welcome to the Learning Lounge

Find out what training and learning opportunities are coming up

We Are All In offers learning and development services to those working in and around housing and homelessness – all informed by lived experience and the latest policy and evidence. In our Learning Lounge select from popular courses that are updated regularly. While our Sounding Board offers consultancy services to help progress your priorities.

Upcoming Courses:

  • Closer to home: a place-based approach to preventing homelessness >>
  • Rough guide to homelessness policy & legislation in Scotland >>
  • The unequal risk: equality in housing and homelessness >>

There may be trouble ahead, so let’s face the music

Homeless Network Scotland, in partnership with Wheatley Group, are proud to present Scotland’s Annual Homelessness Conference and the release today of a packed programme and the first look at a line-up of pitch perfect speakers. Fine-Tuned: striking the right chord on homelessness is taking place on Tuesday 31 October 2023 at Perth Concert Hall, the very heart of a local authority area achieving breakthrough results on homelessness.

It is difficult to remember a time when global, UK and national events have aligned so acutely and with so much pressure on our local housing and homelessness systems in Scotland. The effects are already being felt by those who work or live with the challenges and who are now being relied upon to unlock solutions to unprecedented challenges. Fine-tuned is the opportunity to explore what we all need to fine-tune partnerships, improvise solutions and scale up what works. And to find together points of hope, optimism and inspiration amid the troubles ahead.

The day is warming up to strike the right chord, with guest contributors including:

Paul McLennan MSP Housing Minister

Thomas Glen Chief Executive, Perth & Kinross Council

Jen Ang Director of Development, Just Right Scotland

Maff Potts Director of Association, Camerados

Vonnie Sandlan Social Media Influencer

Dr Beth Watts Senior Research Fellow, I-SPHERE

Jeremy Wylie Associate, Homeless Network Scotland

And (… you may have guessed) some bursts of musical inspiration on the day too. Delegates will be played out by Clanadonia, Scotland’s legendary drum and pipe band.

Being human – and being brave. The conference will explore these two overarching themes across the day, recognising that the times we are living in call on us to nurture relationships, build from strengths and knowledge and grasp the nettle on the big questions. That it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s giving up that’s the real risk to progress. The day will include soloists, sofa sessions, roundtable discussions – and four specialist breakout sessions on immigration, women and homelessness, rapid rehousing and growth mindset. 

Maggie Brunjes, Homeless Network Scotland’s chief executive said:

“This is an extraordinarily pressured and committed sector, and the annual conference offers some time out and the opportunity to connect, draw inspiration and share learning. If you think the day’s themes are interesting and relevant to you, we look forward to seeing you there.”

“If you’re not sure that preventing and tackling homelessness is relevant to your role, then book your place today and let the conference convince you of the need to step outside our different sectors to solve a highly preventable problem in Scotland.”

And from the event partner:

“Wheatley Group is delighted to support Homeless Network Scotland’s Annual Homelessness Conference. As Scotland’s largest housing, care, and property-management group, our mission is ‘Making Homes and Lives Better’ for our 210,000 customers in 19 local authority areas across Scotland.

“As we find ourselves amid a cost-of-living crisis, times are undoubtedly challenging for tenants across the country. With ever-increasing pressure on local housing systems, Wheatley has a key role to play in working with public and private partners to tackle homelessness and help people into their own home.“

So, let’s face the music! Bookings are now open for Scotland’s annual homelessness conference – and we can’t wait to welcome you.

To view the full programme and book your place, please visit Homeless Network Scotland’s online conference page here.  

Coalition calls for private sector to play greater role in ending homelessness

Private landlords could play a far greater role in helping to end homelessness in Scotland, according to a new report from a coalition of homelessness and housing experts.

Releasing its new report, the Everyone Home collective set out how the private rented sector could become a more accessible option for people experiencing homelessness looking for a settled, secure place to live.

The Collective, made up of nearly 40 third sector organisations and academics, strongly welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, a mid-term commitment that would result in the delivery of 38,500 social homes by the end of this parliament in 2026.

But while social housing plays a key role in helping people end their homelessness, the private rented sector is very rarely an option.

In its new report, the group found that widening access to support and advice in private lets would help make the private rented sector more accessible to people experiencing homelessness.

It called on the Scottish Government to promote the role it sees the PRS playing in meeting current and future housing need, setting out a clear vision for the size and role the sector should play in the future tenure composition of housing in Scotland.

It also urged the Scottish Government to support local authorities – in guidance and in practice – to work productively with the PRS to reduce and resolve homelessness.

Incentives for landlords should also be considered, with the aim of improving PRS quality, access and affordability, which also to appeal to landlords who rent to lower income households.

It also recommended targeted, proactive approaches to homelessness prevention for groups which may be at greater risk of eviction, alongside the use of Scottish Government social security powers to top up support for those subject to Local Housing Allowance shortfalls in PRS who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Sarah Walters, head of best practice at homelessness charity Crisis, said: “Social housing plays a vital role in helping people end their homelessness. But while for many people a social tenancy is the right option, with better support we know the private rented sector could play a far greater role in helping people find a safe, secure place to live.

“With numbers of people trapped in temporary accommodation at an all-time high, and with a shortage of affordable housing in Scotland, we need to use every option available to us and the private rented sector can help. People experiencing homelessness deserve the same choice and control as anyone else, but we know that they are far too often locked out of the private rented sector. By reducing barriers and providing support, we can help people end their homelessness and strengthen our communities.”

Maggie Brünjes, chief executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said: “There are many factors that influence the choices we make about our housing. From size and type, to location and accessibility, to time and cost.

“People who experience homelessness must have access to the same range of housing options as other members of the public. For some people, the private rented sector offers the right choice, in the right place at the right time. For this reason, it is in everyone’s interest to work together to ensure the PRS is a viable and affordable option.”

A ‘route forward for the private rented sector’ (Everyone Home collective; Aug 2023) is available to download here. For a briefing and to discuss the route-map, a webinar is being held on 24 August, 10.30-11.30 with speakers including Patrick Harvie MSP. To join the webinar please register here.

Fine Tuned: striking the right chord homelessness in Scotland

About the conference

Everything rests on housing. Our wellbeing and how we experience equality and opportunity. And the happiness and success of our communities and wider society rests on housing too.

But it is difficult to remember a time when global, UK and national events have aligned so acutely and with so much pressure on our local housing systems in Scotland.

The housing, homelessness and refugee sectors know this. Among the most informed, ambitious and committed professional sectors in Scotland – and who are now relied upon to unlock solutions to unprecedented challenges.

So, what do we need – and what more can we do – to fine-tune our partnerships, improvise solutions, scale up what works, and strike the right chord on ending homelessness? How can we be more brave – and be more human?

Highlights will include:

Paul McLennan MSP, Minister for Housing

And much more. Fine Tuned is shaping up to be an event that meets the moment. Please save the date and watch this space for the programme launch and more speaker announcements.

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