May Network Briefing

This month you’ll find analysis of ways to deliver more affordable homes, a raft of research and reports on the linked issues of health, housing and homelessness, a Covid-19 Inquiry invitation, commentary on recent political upheaval, news of All in For Glasgow, and much more.

Change at top must not derail homelessness fight

The collapse of the Bute House agreement, Humza Yousaf’s abrupt resignation as First Minister and the following period of renewal and change in government are drawing attention and energy away from the urgent task of addressing the housing crisis and ending homelessness. Homeless Network Scotland’s Jamie Milne sets out what needs to happen once the dust settles.

All change then. After little more than a year in the top job Humza Yousaf resigned as First Minister and we’re in another period of uncertainty – a new FM, return to minority government, new faces around the Cabinet table making decisions that affect our lives. 

That’s politics. But these things eat up time and energy while the housing crisis deepens.  

What has not changed is rising homelessness, the 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation, the mental toll on people waiting for social or affordable homes, the desperate lives of people trapped in difficult or dangerous situations because there’s nowhere else to go. 

Politics will dominate the news in weeks to come. But beyond the headlines we have a potentially game-changing Housing Bill in the early stages of the process towards becoming law.  

Progress towards this point must not be unravelled by politics. Once the dust settles, all parties must sharpen their focus on protecting the proposals in the Bill – not least the Ask and Act measures to prevent homelessness earlier, which will stand or fall on how they are resourced. 

Reversing the £200million cut to affordable homes in the Budget must also be at the top of the new First Minister’s in-tray.  

What better way to signal a new direction than to make it easier for people to find a decent home so they can build the foundations of a life? What better way to ease housing pressures on local authorities doing their best for people in urban and rural areas? 

The cost-of-living crisis, global events and the pandemic have played their part in stoking housing pressures, but we are not powerless to solve this, as 25 years of devolution shows. 

The new First Minister can re-energise our collective effort to end homelessness by explicitly making this his top priority.  

By finding common ground and working together, all parties at Holyrood can make the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to end homelessness and destitution a reality – and ensure this period of uncertainty does not make things worse.

Homelessness is neither a personal choice or inevitable

Homeless Network Scotland’s chief executive Maggie Brunjes, and Prof Andrea E Williamson from the University of Glasgow co-authored an editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published this month.

It highlights the stubborn collective consciousness that continues to divorce homelessness from the larger health and economic inequality that causes it – and encourages health professionals to adopt an ‘inclusion health’ approach that can help reduce the unacceptably poor health outcomes among people affected by homelessness. Find the BMJ article here.

‘You need to have that know-how if you want to make changes for the people it affects’

All in For Change members with personal and professional experience of homelessness have been talking about their work on the team and explaining the benefits a co-production ethos brings to the table.

The Change Team works with decision makers to develop homelessness policy and has had a significant influence in areas including development of the new prevention duties proposed for public bodies and policies around Rapid Rehousing.

Change Lead Suzie McIlloney, Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan Officer at South Ayrshire Council, talks about the positive experiences and range of different work she has been involved in during her time on the Team.

I got involved with the Change Team because I see the value in coming together, listening and driving forward real change.

Before coming to South Ayrshire Council, I supported people who were experiencing homelessness.

I am extremely lucky to be involved with a team of people who are passionate and who really care about what they do.

As a team, we come together as equals, we learn from each other, we have built relationships, we support each and deliver on what is needed to change.

What surprised me most is the range of opportunities we are involved in. I have participated in the Prevention Duties Task and Finish group, attended focus groups, I have spoken at conferences – this is just a snapshot.

Bringing policymaking and people with experience of homelessness together just makes sense. You need to have that know-how if you want to make changes for the people it affects. This is what co-production is all about.

The Change team’s successes and future priorities are set out in this evaluation of the programme’s first 3 years.

#AllIn for CoPro: ‘To see our concept drafted into legislation was special’

Since 2019 the All In For Change team has been using its wide-ranging expertise to help achieve objectives set out in the Scottish Government-COSLA Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan.

The team works with decision makers in local and national government to develop policy, and one of its biggest successes to date has been developing prevention duties proposed for public bodies, intended to be written into law in the forthcoming Housing Bill.

Key aims of the programme, facilitated by Homeless Network Scotland, Cyrenians and Scottish Community Development Centre, are bringing about co-ordinated working between different services and ensuring support services take a person-centred approach. The team also facilitates roadshows to take the temperature of how things are working around the country.

To mark Scottish Co-Production Network’s #CoProWeekScot, Change Leads have been sharing their experiences of working as part of #AllInForChange. Below we hear from David Pentland, on the team since the very start, and new Change Lead Lisa.

Members of the Change Team with Housing Minister Paul McLennan

David Pentland, Change Lead since 2019

When I joined the Change Team – an eclectic mix of lived experience, frontline workers and senior council staff – it was my first visit to the policy arena and the workings of Scottish Government.  

One of the first pieces of work after I joined in December 2019 was the Prevention Commission, a subgroup of the Change Team that fed directly into the Prevention Review Group facilitated by Claire and David from Homeless Network Scotland.  

They really broke down the ask of the Prevention Review Group well and supported us over many months to formulate a piece of ideal legislation that was reflective of what we thought needed to change in homelessness.  

Although I couldn’t make every meeting as I was working, I did however always feel completely up to date and ready to participate with the updates provided.  

To then watch our concept of prevention duties, placing a legal duty on statutory/public bodies to “Ask and Act” regarding people’s housing stability being drafted into legislation, was special. 

In the main Change Team, we did a lot of work with Beth from Heriot-Watt University’s I-SPHERE institute, looking at research models and a lot of the work the institute had been commissioned to do historically. I really enjoyed drinking in the information, and I became really interested in policy and legislation. 

The Change Team has evolved since launch and was inhibited during the lockdown restrictions. It was however exciting to come out of lockdown and start work on the roadshows.  

We planned and carried out roadshows in five areas of Scotland – it was exciting to see what the reality was on the ground and how central government initiatives had improved the lives of people experiencing homelessness. 

Being part of the Change Team has been a worthwhile endeavour and I would like to think it has brought policy and legislation closer to the people experiencing homelessness. 

‘It is liberating experiencing co-production’

Lisa, new Change Lead

To be part of All In For Change inspires me as it consists of a full circle of members, from those with professional status to people who have used services. Experiencing both sides brings passion to support evolving positive change.

It is liberating experiencing co-production as power in numbers creates a wider strength for our cause. Different personal experiences and outlooks on what is needed, once brainstormed and navigated, creates a need and ideas for change.

The value of co-production being brought to homelessness policy making is togetherness, a cohesive community, creating a positive support bubble – ‘ALL IN FOR CHANGE’.

The Change team’s successes and future priorities are set out in this evaluation of the programme’s first 3 years