Housing first blog:
We are at a unique moment in our history together - one where what was previously cast aside by some of the powers-that-be as idealistic ambition, is now both possible and necessary. This pandemic has highlighted the relationships between us all, and just how unequally the burden of risk falls across society. This inequality pre-existed covid, of course; we’re all crossing this stormy sea, but while some of us are secure on well-built vessels, others are struggling to stay afloat.
There is a better route we can steer out of this crisis, and together we have the wealth of knowledge, evidence and expertise to guide us. Housing First is an integral element of a person centred, end to homelessness and is core to the success of the Rapid Rehousing Implementation Plans every Local authority needs to deliver. But its success needs more than a well implemented new system of support; I would agree wholeheartedly with my partners and colleagues who have written before me that Housing First must not be seen as an appendage to an existing system – it is a system-changing philosophy and approach.
The approach is a moral choice to uphold dignity, choice and control, built on respect for others whatever their circumstances, and it’s evidenced – we’re being guided by what works, what people need, and we’re seeing better outcomes for it. Not just for those who receive that support, but for the wider community and society as a whole.
A big part of the system-change we need to see is in the breaking down of barriers between siloed service-delivery areas, and in nurturing further and more effective collaboration and stronger relationships. We need to see a continued move away from transactional, top-down thinking, that sees people according to their deficits that need particular remedies, to a relationship-based way of working - one that understands the fundamental importance of the relationships between us, the way we relate to our surroundings and world, and how they interrelate. There has been a lot of progress, but we still have some way to go.
Because fundamentally, at its core, Housing First is about relationships. Getting rid of the ‘housing-ready’ dogma of the past was a revolutionary step, but for those who have experienced the toughest realities, getting a home is one step in their journey. Person-centred support and the patient building of trusted relationships is necessary component that will give that person the opportunity to sustain their tenancy. Successful buy-in from partner-agencies and a complete overhaul of a broken system will enable those supportive relationships to develop and form, and, in that space, for transformation to happen.
At Cyrenians, we’re proud to work with our 6 other consortium member organisation, plus other partners both public and third sector, and lead the Housing First Edinburgh Consortium becoming an integral part of Scotland’s story of Housing First. There is much work to be done ahead in building relationships, fostering collaboration, and changing systems. The Housing First Academy is exactly the right thing we need as colleagues with a shared mission – a forum from which we can build an ever stronger community, sharing stories, experiences and expertise. As an institution we will all benefit from it in the months and years to come as we welcome more and more on our journey with us.