An online community for those committed to Housing First as the default model for people experiencing complex homelessness challenges was launched in Scotland recently. The new Housing First Academy by Turning Point Scotland, an organisation providing social care services to a range of people across Scotland, plays a role providing training and ensuring Housing First services continue to provide good outcomes for homeless people.
Housing first is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed. It has been implemented for the last decade in Scotland growing from a single pilot of the European End Street Homelessness Campaign in Glasgow to a nationally government-backed programme.
The Housing First Academy provides a platform for professionals and volunteers to create connections, build relationships, networks and good practice within the Housing First community in Scotland. It is centred around three hubs of the ‘Communities of Practice Hub’, the ‘Training Hub’ and the ‘Europe Hub’ which support managers, commissioners and stakeholders to deliver Housing First.
The ‘Communities of Practice Hub’ brings together Housing First professionals in Scotland, Europe and beyond to share experiences and challenges to provide the best services and support, while the ‘Training Hub’ delivers multiple levels of training to support learning and development of practitioners, managers and partners. The Europe Hub is a network of organisations, foundations, governments and experts working together to promote scaling up of Housing First as a systemic response to homelessness across Europe. There are challenges in providing Housing First support and in ensuring fidelity to the model, so it is imperative that learning, communication and development are maintained for it to continue to be an effective form of housing provision for the most vulnerable in society. The Housing First Academy acts as a link between Housing First services and partner agencies, as a conduit to create a flow of information to and from the Europe Hub and promotes good practice as Housing First evolves in Scotland. Sandra Green, training and development officer, says it is part of the Housing First Academy’s vision that those working in Housing First in Scotland become active citizens in the Housing First community in Europe and beyond. She says there is amazing work being done and it makes sense to share and learn from each other. “The work of the academy comes at a crucial point as Housing First is rolled out across Scotland and its’ citizens have an active role to play in developing and promoting best practice. We hope the work of the Housing First Academy of connecting people and developing good practice contribute to ending homelessness in Scotland,” says Green.
Patrick Duce, programme lead for Homelessness at World Habitat, says he is delighted to see Turning Point Scotland launch the Housing First Academy and looks forward to seeing how they share their good practice and years of expertise with other practitioners in Scotland and beyond. He says as associate members of the Housing First Europe Hub, World Habitat connect their European End Street Homelessness Campaign cities to projects and programmes so they can learn about good practice and what works from all across Europe. “World Habitat have long advocated for Housing First as a solution to street homelessness and when delivered correctly in accordance with key principles, it is proven to be an effective intervention for those with multiple, complex needs and a history of chronic homelessness. The academy plays a crucial role in providing training for frontline staff and ensuring Housing First services continue to offer the best outcomes for those who need it most,” says Duce.