Housing and homelessness strategic partnership

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Homeless Network Scotland (HNS) have today (Thursday 16 July) announced they will be forming a strategic partnership, with the aim of strengthening the social housing sector’s role in tackling homelessness.

This will include:

  • joint lobbying on mutual areas of interest
  • test-of-change projects to scope new approaches to tackling homelessness
  • SFHA involvement in the design and delivery of a new national framework by HNS, to startup, scale up and integrate Housing First to tackle multiple disadvantage
  • post-Covid support guidance, options and tools to help test new ideas that preventhomelessness and create housing capacity and choice
  • HNS quarterly homelessness policy and practice briefings for SFHA members.

As part of the arrangement, SFHA members will have automatic access to the benefits of Homeless Network Scotland’s full membership category.

Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted to be working more closely with Homeless Network Scotland. Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives already play a key role in tackling and preventing homelessness by providing affordable housing, tenancy sustainment support, and financial and welfare rights services.

“Through this partnership, we can ensure that social housing providers further strengthen the work they do, in order to achieve the shared ambition of ending homelessness in Scotland.”

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

“This strategic partnership with SFHA is very important to us. Our organisations share common values and approaches which overlap with a shared objective to resolve homelessness.

“The timing is also right to formalise this partnership. Housing ends homelessness, and a housing-led recovery will help us move forward from current emergency measures to mitigate against the worst impacts of the pandemic on homelessness in Scotland.

“No one wants to see people return to unsuitable temporary accommodation or rough sleeping. This will need us all to do more. While it will need a shift in homeless systems and provision, it also needs more social and affordable housing, especially in parts of Scotland where supply does not meet demand. I know this formal partnership between our organisations can help further that aim.”

Wisdom from the System – re-designing an inclusive and adaptable alternative system

On July 14 over 40 people with experience of the social care, criminal justice, mental health and homelessness sectors in Scotland came together as part of a UK wide conversation, Wisdom from the System.

Participants acknowledged overlapping issues and how outdated, broken systems are failing individuals – where people have to navigate multiple different services, rather than focussing on their strengths and capabilities.

Wisdom from the System is intended to enable learning from the changes made during the pandemic, and to see a more connected, less competitive model adopted to ensure needs are met and that no-one is left behind.  

Pulling together key themes from these conversations, and using these to decide what’s next, we are hoping this to be the beginning of a powerful movement towards redesigning a system created to support – but is too often failing – people going through difficult times.

For more information and for the opportunity to submit your wisdom online please visit: https://wisdom.maydaytrust.org.uk/

HARSAG recommendations and next steps

In a statement released today (Wed 15 July 2020) the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP, approved in principle all 105 recommendations from the Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Action Group. 

The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action group (HARSAG) was reconvened in response to the pandemic. The group was originally established following renewed commitments to tackle homelessness in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government in 2017 and subsequently submitted a set of ground-breaking recommendations, adopted in full.

The final report takes both an immediate and a longer-term view, addressing what it will take to protect progress made in the past four months, especially to prevent a return to previous levels of rough sleeping. It also considers how we can build on all that was achieved by local and national partners in the year before the pandemic – the first year of the transition toward a new, rapid rehousing approach. It includes stronger recommendations to assist urgent developments going forward, such as preventing homelessness, accelerating Housing First, increasing housing supply and ending destitution among people with no recourse to public funds. 

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland and member of the HARSAG, said: 

“The Minister’s statement confirms the resolute intention of the Scottish Government to resolve homelessness over the next phase. Our warm appreciation goes to the Minister for reconvening this group and for accepting all of our recommendations.

“While Scotland was already heading in the right direction to resolve homelessness, the pandemic has forced the pace and taught us important lessons about urgency, collaboration, what’s possible – and what really matters. 

“Through cross-sector consultation, HARSAG has built from the early objectives identified by the Everyone Home Collective and from priorities of the Change Team, bringing lived and frontline experience. Going forward, these structures – connecting directly with our public sector, health and housing partners – will be vital to support implementation of these recommendations on the ground.”

The Launch of Housing First Academy

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland writes about the unique role that Turning Point Scotland has in the story of Housing First in Scotland and why the launch of the Housing First Academy is the right step at exactly the right time.

Homeless Network Scotland and Turning Point Scotland have a close and shared history responding to homelessness and all its related issues, and on Housing First in Scotland especially.

The late Ian Irvine is rightly credited with bringing the Housing First model to Scotland in 2010 while Operations Manager with Turning Point Scotland and long-standing trustee of Homeless Network Scotland. While a decade on, Turning Point Scotland’s Director of Operations, Patrick McKay, is serving a term as Chair of Homeless Network Scotland.

In 2016, both organisations founded Housing First Scotland alongside the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research at Heriot-Watt university. This team of leading academics were becoming increasingly convinced by the strength of evidence of Housing First approaches internationally and the better outcomes it could achieve in Scotland for people whose homelessness is made much harder by experiences such as trauma and addiction.

Together, we had a shared ambition to build from the Glasgow pilot and to help partners scale up the approach in their area. Housing First Scotland became a place to direct the energy and interest in Housing First among early adopters and champions emerging across all sectors. We were so inspired by the 250 delegates joining our 2017 and 2018 conferences in Stirling, before we spread out to enable 350 people to join our 2019 conference at Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre.

Of course, the landscape shifted significantly across that period thanks to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities committee, whose year-long deliberations in 2017-18 concluded that Housing First had a key role to play in ensuring Scotland’s strong, rights-based approach to homelessness is better realised at local level. And the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government in 2017 which committed to resolving homelessness backed by a £50m fund; a cross-sector Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group was appointed with Housing First, as part of a broader rapid rehousing framework, our cornerstone recommendation. 

Meanwhile, Social Bite targeted their remarkable fundraising efforts to catalyse a Housing First Pathfinder in 6 areas, appointing Homeless Network Scotland and Corra Foundation as project and fund managers, Turning Point Scotland as training providers and Heriot-Watt university as evaluators. This set in motion £6.5m primary funding from the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Fund to increase the reach and ambition of the pathfinder.

Scotland is now on a mission to ensure that all people with the hardest experiences of homelessness across all parts of Scotland get housing first and fast. The pandemic has only asserted the urgency to have Housing First not just at the heart, but at the helm of our recovery from it.

So it’s a pleasure this week to add our warmest congratulations to Turning Point Scotland on the launch of the Housing First Academy bolstered by an online resource to train and support best delivery of Housing First on the ground. This is exactly the right step at exactly the right time in Scotland’s story of Housing First. 

The Academy and resource hub for key workers is both a beacon and a lifeline, a new community of shared ambition and shared practice. And one that can draw on experiences from within and beyond Scotland to inspire current Housing First support workers – and embrace the many hundreds more that will step up to this important role in their area over the coming months and years.

First Route Map from Everyone Home Collective

Night shelters and hotel rooms as a response to homelessness will be actively designed out over the next phase according to plans published today by the Everyone Home Collective. The plans will feed into Scottish and local Government thinking as the country moves out of lockdown and considers the future of night shelter and hotel accommodation along with other issues around homelessness policy.

The Route Map can be viewed here at the Everyone Home website along with further information about the work of the Collective and other plans over the coming weeks and months. Keep up to date with the latest thinking and publications using #EveryoneHome on social media.

Night shelters currently operate in Edinburgh, delivered by Bethany Christian Trust since 1996, and in Glasgow delivered by Glasgow City Mission since 2010.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised both health and practical considerations for charities providing this type of accommodation. This is especially true for dormitory-style shelters.

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said: “This has been a priority issue for the Collective so I want to thank everyone involved in pulling together this important Route Map, and the organisations running shelters for their leadership and expertise in reaching an agreement that will work.

“The Collective have agreed to modify provision later this year to take into account social distancing and ensure the safety of guests and staff, aiming to make sure shelter is provided for all those who need it. The Route Map sets out our objective to phase out this type of provision, and in the meantime have it act as a reception centre for Housing First and other rapid rehousing options.”