New System Alliance Launch: Monday 30 Nov

The New System Alliance will launch on Monday, with a week-long series of online events to explore new ways forward for cross-sector system change in the UK.  

The aim of the Alliance is to provide an opportunity to listen, to be heard and to look at solutions to bring about total system change. It will act as a home for those who have felt frustrated, unheard or invisible, whether coming from a place of direct experience or working in services, funding and commissioning.  

This initiative was built on the voices heard from people trapped in this failing system. In these conversations people shared their honest experiences of homelessness, social care, mental health, and criminal justice systems – their wisdoms. The response was overwhelming, highlighting many situations where systems have become a barrier that people needed to be overcome in order to move on with their lives. 

Homeless Network Scotland are proud to join partners across the UK to support people to take control, and together make systems work better for everyone. 

Please join us to celebrate the launch of this empowering initiative by registering to attend these free events: https://newsystemalliance.org/

Acronyms Aweigh! HARSAG And EHT For Frontline Workers

Join us on Tuesday 8 December 1-4pm for our latest members’ event, Acronyms Aweigh! HARSAG and EHT for Frontline Workers.

The Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) made over 100 recommendations in July 2020. Scottish Government and COSLA included these in the new Ending Homelessness Together (EHT) plan published in October 2020.

We will be hosting this free reflective workshop for frontline workers from all sectors across Scotland to explore these new priorities and what they mean for people working every day in frontline roles.

We will provide an overview of the HARSAG recommendations and how these were carried into the EHT plan. And reflect together on what the four main themes – prioritise prevention, settled housing options, equalities competence and responsive systems – mean for people working in direct frontline roles.

To get your online joining link, email hello@homelessnetwork.scot or call 0141 420 7272.

We hope to see you there!

Housing First National Framework Opens for Consultation

This new and comprehensive 90-page National Framework is for all organisations and sectors starting or scaling up Housing First in Scotland. It sets out the context in which Housing First can be successfully delivered, and should act as a guide to planning, commissioning and implementing the approach.

Importantly, section 7 provides a ‘Live Status Report’, which will monitor progress toward achieving the right conditions for Housing First to be scaled up right across Scotland, in line with local need.

Housing First should be the first response for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences such as trauma, addictions and mental ill-health. It provides ordinary housing in an ordinary community because this, for most people, is the best option. It combines settled housing with person-centred, strengths-based and flexible support – as much and for as long as someone wants it.

Please keep an eye on Housing First Scotland website for the consultation launch this week, and on social media at @HFScotland. For more information, training or learning opportunities, or to discuss any element of the framework in more detail, please email housingfirst@homelessnetwork.scot 

Housing First Scotland belongs to everyone who is helping Housing First become the first response for people whose homelessness is compounded by experiences such as trauma, abuse, addictions and mental ill health. It has been hosted by Homeless Network Scotland since 2016.

Save the Date: UK movement to change the system launch: 1 December

The UK-wide New System Alliance is a response to the experiences of people going through tough times. That the systems people need to navigate are at their most rigid when they should be at their most flexible. And whichever door people enter is often the label they have stuck on them – mental health, addictions, offending, homelessness… 

The New System Alliance has also been driven by what was heard through a series of workshops and seminars over the summer titled Wisdom from the System. Driven by evidence that current systems people encounter when they go through tough times are not working and need to change, learning from these workshops has informed next steps. 

After years of listening and learning from the realities of people’s lives Mayday Trust, Changing Lives, Homeless Network Scotland and Platfform all recognised the same problem – one of the biggest challenges people face going through tough times is the system itself. Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the New System Alliance will be a place for those who feel there is something wrong with the current systems for people experiencing tough times – and want to take a role creating a better, fairer one.

Save the date, 1st December 2020 for a week of online events where we will be exploring systems change, hearing from a variety of voices and provide the opportunity to challenge, discuss and reflect. Watch Homeless Network Scotland’s website for more information and on social media at @HomelessNetScot

Safe As Houses: Day 3 Round-up

The risk and impact of homelessness is not distributed equally. Some groups of people are more affected by, overrepresented in, or excluded from the homelessness system. 

This morning we kicked off the final day of Safe As Houses by exploring how homelessness discriminates in the same way as the pandemic and the consequences of this, including how this health, social and economic inequality affects us all and what levers we can pull to increase equality and advocate for a fairer society for all of us. 

A discussion with Ruth Robin (Portfolio Lead (Place, Home & Housing), NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland) explored the importance and practicalities of joined up working across housing and health, particularly now that the pandemic has shone a light on the relationship between health and home.

We were thrilled to welcome Eloise Nutbrown (Policy Manager, COSLA), who launched the Everyone Home Collective’s latest route-map, setting out a new future for NRPF and the people it affects in Scotland in our session on ending destitution and protecting human rights. You can find out more about the route-map here

Homeless Network Scotland Change Lead, Michelle Major, hosted Deborah Hay (Policy & Partnerships Manager, Joseph Rowntree Foundation), Pam Hunter (Chief Executive, Say Women), Peter Kelly (Director, Poverty Alliance), Elodie Mignard (Programme Manager, Scottish Refugee Council andHomeless Network Scotland Board) and Ruth Whatling (Team Leader, Scottish Government) in a live lounge discussion exploring what it will take to create safety and equality in Scotland. The speakers touched on both positive developments that we can build on, as well as obstacles to creating a fairer and more equal society.

The afternoon’s theme “If We Don’t All Row, The Boat Won’t Go!” centred on how we each find our role to make a collective impact on homelessness, and the perceptions of wider society and its role in preventing homelessness before it happens.

Scotland has corrected its course to resolve homelessness with a new method, a national plan and 32 local plans. The new direction that all partners are now navigating promises better and more cost-effective results, but many obstacles to change still persist. 

The spoken extract from a new book by award-winning journalist and author Mary O’Hara offered an insight into one of these obstacles; the toxic poverty narrative that often pervades conversations around homelessness. How we can overturn the deep-rooted portrayal that poverty is caused by personal flaws or ‘bad life decisions’ rather than policy choices or economic inequality is the central question of “The Shame Game”, and indeed a question that all of us working to end homelessness in Scotland grapple with. 

The challenge of overcoming established narratives was also a central theme of the live lounge discussion which followed. Hosted by Carolyn Sawers (Deputy Chief Executive, Corra Foundation) and featuring Catherine Ashford (Strategic Communications Project Manager, Crisis), Fiona Garven (Director, Scottish Community Development Centre), Sylvia Douglas (Founding Director, MsMissMrs), Hannah Green (Lived Experiences Specialist, Centre for Homelessness Impact) and Twimukye Mushak (Senior Fieldwork Development Officer, Poverty Alliance), this discussion explored how the framing of homelessness and public perceptions have changed since COVID-19. 

In the second launch of the day, Dr Beth Watts (Senior Research Fellow, Heriot-Watt University) unveiled important new research which aims to capture the scale and type of supported housing that is needed in Scotland, within a culture that remains open to choice, options and rights. 

Representatives from the Change Team, an inspiring group of people with personal and frontline experience of homelessness in Scotland, hosted the next session, with a special surprise especially for Safe As Houses delegates!

The Everyone Home Collective, Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder and the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness – along with input from delegates on the day – shared thoughts and ideas on what can we learn from those reaching across sectors and professional boundaries to make a collective impact. With the takeaway message that ending homelessness in Scotland is possible if we work together on what works and what matters, this inspiring session helped us to rethink how we move towards a new culture of collective leadership and impact.

The day – and conference – drew to a close with a unique and thought-provoking goodbye story from Ishbel Smith (Founder, Heart in Mouth). 

Across all three days of debate and deliberation, Safe as Houses provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the ongoing pandemic on housing and homelessness in Scotland. It has been a celebration of the extraordinary efforts across all areas – from colleagues on the frontline walking alongside people during the crisis, to policy makers shifting focus to protect people most at risk.

Crucially, it has also been a moment for us to come together to consider the aftermath of the pandemic and explore the challenges ahead – some new, some familiar – where we will need to sharpen our focus on housing supply and deepen our competence on inequality. We hope that you, like us, feel that across these three days we have laid the foundations of a shared understanding of how we can all move forward, together. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make the final day, and all three days, of Safe As Houses such a success. 

If you missed out, highlights and shared learning will be available on our social media channels over the coming weeks.