Working in partnership to end homelessness
Last year, the Local Government Association (LGA) worked with Homeless Link to draft some guidance for the voluntary sector on partnership working to tackle homelessness. We wanted to highlight the vital importance of partnership at a time when levels of homelessness were high and rising, with over 4,000 people sleeping on the streets and over 83,000 in temporary accommodation.
The guidance contains many examples of excellent joint working against that context – charities and councils working hand in hand to ensure that people who are disadvantaged or are at risk of being so were quickly identified and prevented from becoming homeless, and to ensure that people who were already homeless could access timely, targeted and appropriate services and accommodation.
Since then, the world has been fundamentally changed by the COVID-19 crisis, and our social, economic, and environmental context is very different.
For many, the crisis has significantly increased the risk of hardship, homelessness, and compromised health. However, amongst the tragedies, the crisis has also created opportunities with 15,000 people, previously sleeping on the streets or in night shelters, rehoused and supported by councils and their partners, with profound positive effects on their wellbeing.
The crisis has also highlighted the importance of partnership. Councils, charities, and partners in the public sector have together been able to identify people who are disadvantaged or are at risk of being so – whether they are already experiencing chronic homelessness or just starting to experience financial insecurity and housing instability. Where these partnerships are working well, they have been able to swiftly bring together their collective resources to ensure that thousands have been safely accommodated, and given support with claiming benefits, improving their health, and their daily needs. And they have consequently strengthened local support networks, bringing together more services, more closely, so that the partnership benefits which we’ve seen can be embedded in the longer term, as we move towards recovery.
Councils and their partners can’t end homelessness alone, and support is still needed from central government if we are to see everyone in for good. This includes reforming welfare benefits, including the benefit cap, so that people can afford and sustain safe accommodation. We also need support for people with no recourse to public funds, who are at a very high risk of destitution.
However, we hope that this guidance will go some way to highlighting how positive change can be made at a local level, so that we can collectively recover into a new, and better, normal.
Working Strategically with Local Authorities
Coordinated local responses are essential to ending homelessness. This guidance sets out the six key elements of effective joint working, helping voluntary, community and faith groups to develop strategic relationships with their local authority.
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