June Network Briefing

This month you’ll find a wide range of reports and research on subjects including rural poverty, wealth inequality, stigma and support for women experiencing homelessness, as well as learning opportunities and first details of Scotland’s annual homelessness conference.

Be sure to check out details of our upcoming Members’ Forum event on the state of Housing First, and watch a series of engaging short films explaining the new NICE guideline on working with people who are homeless – of interest to professionals in health and social care, and beyond.

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.

Housing emergencies: Argyll & Bute charts way forward

Argyll and Bute Council has detailed key outcomes from a Housing Summit held after it declared a housing emergency last year. The summit brought together 90 partners from public, private, third and community sectors who pledged their support to take action to address the housing shortage. Read more here.

Edinburgh and Glasgow also declared housing emergencies at the end of last year. In Glasgow, The Ferret news outlet and Greater Govanhill Community Magazine recently hosted an Open House session for experts, local people and people working in the housing and homelessness sectors to explore issues and solutions. Read a summary of the event.

Meanwhile, Fife has become the latest local authority to follow suit and declare its own housing emergency amid “unprecedented pressure” on housing and homelessness systems in the area.

The council recently agreed a three-year plan to tackle homelessness which highlighted the need for an estimated £67.3 million to help the escalating number of families without permanent housing. Full details here.

#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

#AllIn for CoPro: ‘We can make better policy with people’

All In For Change provides a platform for people with experience of homelessness and frontline staff to connect with decision makers and contribute to the development and implementation of homelessness policy.

To mark Scottish Co-Production Week, Louise Thompson from the Scottish Government’s Homelessness Unit shares her experiences of working with the Change Team in areas including the new prevention duties – driven by a sense of purpose, collaboration and plenty of laughter.

The Change Team contribute to the development and implementation of policy by ensuring our policies are informed by the lived experience of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

There are many examples where the Change Team have contributed to Scottish Government policy on homelessness.

One which is current and ongoing is their contribution to the development of new prevention duties which are intended to be introduced in the Housing Bill.

Change Leads co-designed the questions on lived experience with colleagues from the Homelessness Unit for the prevention duties consultation.

Change Leads will be an important partner in ensuring the Scottish Government get this legislation right, including through their involvement in developing guidance to reflect the needs of people experiencing homelessness in a practical and meaningful way.

As civil servants, myself and colleagues in the Homelessness Unit work hard to make changes and develop policies to help people, but we can make better policy with people. This is why the Change Team, and the experience they bring, is so important and why I consider myself lucky that I get to work with them.

Louise Thompson, Scottish Government Homelessness Unit

Recently the Change Team has been further strengthened by the addition of new paid Homeless Network Scotland Associates. The new recruits are already bringing their experiences to our work around the prevention duties and sharing their insights into what is working and what could be better in services, from adopting more person-centred and joined-up approaches to reducing stigma.

Looking ahead, I am excited about there being another ‘taking the temperature’ tour where the Change Team travel across Scotland to hear the views of people with experience of homelessness and who work in homelessness.

Offering opportunities for people to participate from different parts of the country, including rural and island communities as well as under-represented groups, is important in gathering evidence.

As civil servants, myself and colleagues in the Homelessness Unit work hard to make changes and develop policies to help people, but we can make better policy with people. This is why the Change Team, and the experience they bring, is so important and why I consider myself lucky that I get to work with them.

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