Working together to shape an effective and preventative approach to ending homelessness in Great Yarmouth.

Daniel Hastings is working as a Local Implementation Lead as part of our People and Communities work, providing a vital local link to develop the Foundation's long term work focusing on working to change the systems affecting people impacted by issues such as homelessness. 

In this blog, Daniel speaks on working together with organizations to shape an effective and preventative approach to ending homelessness in Great Yarmouth.

Watch how communities came together during COVID to meet need and support one another in their local communities 

Working together during COVID

During the first COVID lockdown, a group of voluntary sector organisations came together, providing mutual support for one another, through what was quite a difficult time for everyone. In some circumstances, organisations had to bring their services to a standstill or think differently about how they deliver those services. It was a tough time for all and with so much uncertainty, the benefit of this network and the relationships within it was a real asset.

The group shared a role in supporting members of our community who were deeply impacted by the pandemic. There was definite energy around the homelessness agenda particularly following the Government's ‘Everybody In’ initiative which had shone a light on the unforeseen levels of homelessness. It was key to capitalise on this energy and this led to developing a shared, place wide ambition to consider how we can collaborate across sectors to respond, learn and shape post-COVID service delivery for this agenda together.

Bringing organisations together

In the very early days, I brought people together who represent the different local organisations working to address homelessness. I supported everyone to identify that we have some fantastic operational links in Great Yarmouth. However, it was felt that everyone operated in a strategic vacuum that felt strategically uncoordinated. People reported that it felt like each organisation was delivering in a siloed fashion when they could have collaborated. There is our Local Authority for example who will have their statutory rough sleeper's strategy and local voluntary sector organisations that are sometimes competing for and even duplicating short term projects and often worked independently rather than being complimentary of one another's objectives. What we needed was a way to share a vision across the place and coordinate our response together but there was no forum to do this. And what about the views of people who have experienced homelessness? How does the system look and feel for them?

 

It's been tough to maintain energy given the pressure and ever-changing social environment we have endured over the last 18 months but we have continued to grow our energy. A system wide conversation has continued despite the pressures that everybody has worked through. The newly formed ‘Great Yarmouth Homelessness Alliance’ is forever developing; collaborating regularly with service and systems leaders from across the Borough and Norfolk County. This includes those that provide services for young people, homeless hostels, advice and guidance agencies for welfare support, local food banks and key volunteer services as well as statutory representatives from Local Authorities, Police, Department for Work and Pensions, Health and Social care, but crucially, people who have been homeless.

 

Next steps

At present, a newly formed group of strategic leaders is developing its agenda and strategy together. This group is working towards measuring outcomes collectively rather than just at organisational level. It feels like the start of a longer term journey of working collaboratively in a place with a shared vision and a shared agenda that is influenced and co-produced by people with lived experience of homelessness and supported with professional expertise.

 

A group of 12 organisations are about to embark upon an exciting piece of research work which will provide the strategic group with a broader picture of the views of people who have experience of accessing homelessness services in Great Yarmouth. This will help identify what isn’t working and support our shared vision and ambition. I look forward to working with service design principles to help us understand and ultimately start to shape an effective and preventative approach to ending homelessness in Great Yarmouth.

 

Daniel works for DIAL, which is a local charity in Great Yarmouth providing residents with a range of services including support with money & debt, benefits, housing, employment and wellbeing.

Listen to Daniel, alongside Ann Johson, speak about looking at new ways of working in place-based work in Telford and Great Yarmouth, and their honest, straightforward description of progress and setbacks as part of the How To Be Wrong series in partnership with Ratio.

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