Liz Littler tells us about her experience of managing the Housing First Consortium Glasgow during the pandemic, whilst scaling up the service.
Turning Point Scotland are a social care organisation that celebrated their 20th anniversary in June 2019. They provide support to people facing the most complex and challenging situations.
TPS prides itself in creating and providing innovative and progressive services that support service users to be active citizens. TPS have always provided support to people experiencing homelessness but their involvement in Housing First began in 2010.
In 2008, Ian Irvine, an Operations Manager from TPS who was passionate about ending homelessness went on holiday to New York. Whilst he was there he arranged to visit a service called Pathway to Housing. It was here that Ian met Sam Tsemberis the founder of the Housing First model.
In the 1990's Sam recognised that the existing staircase model used in homelessness services was not working for a specific group of individuals.
He believed that a home is a human right, and developed an alternative, that meant people with a history of long term homelessness and complex needs were given a home first with wraparound support. This system worked extremely well and in it’s first year of service Pathway to Housing saw an 85% success rate.
On his return to Glasgow, Ian was determined to establish Housing First in the city to support people who were homeless and had alcohol and drug dependency.
Ian had lots of discussions with TPS senior management team and the board, which led to TPS providing funding for the first Housing First service in Scotland in 2010. The Nue, GHA, Southside Housing and Queen’s Cross Housing Associations were the first to provide homes for this new and innovative service. It was a bold step and leap of faith from all and it paid off.
The initial TPS pilot in Glasgow was extended to East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire in 2013.
The success of these services was recognised leading to a three year programme funded by Social Bite, the Scottish Government and The Merchant’s House in Glasgow. Starting in April 2019, Housing First in Scotland was upscaling to deliver an amazing 830 tenancies in five cities (six local authority areas).
The Housing First Pathfinder is now delivering Housing First in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Stirling. Already, these Pathfinder cities are seeing similar success in tenancy sustainment. Additionally, 30 out of 32 local authorities made a commitment to provide Housing First in their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP).
TPS have had the privilege of working with Housing First services across Scotland, and the work that is happening and the commitment from everyone has been outstanding.
Housing First is now the form of homeless support of choice, not only in Scotland but across Europe and now in Australia. We recognise that Housing First is not for everyone and will be an integral part of a wider Homeless system. Housing First cannot be added to an existing homeless system and expect it to flourish, through a Systems Fidelity approach, a focus on transforming homeless systems are required. This is an area of work will become an ever more prevalent with local authorities and within Housing First Europe Hub.About Housing First Academy