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Blog: Homelessness and Prevention Turning Point Scotland Now and the Future

Our social media recently featured Service Manager’s from our Homelessness and Prevention services detailing what makes their service successful and challenging the stigma around Homelessness.

At Turning Point Scotland, we are known for our ability to develop and deliver services based on best practice, policy and legislation. However, we are also known for developing and delivering new which influence the same. As an example, we brought Housing First to the UK from New York in 2010. We also want to be known in the future as leaders on Systems Change through a Whole System Approach which I will cover below.

Our experience in Housing First and our ’10 years and Key Messages’ (2020) paper highlighted what Housing First was and is. It’s important to note that Housing First means we start with a house but that’s only the beginning. We are working across the country ensuring the wider systems and services don’t walk away because someone is supported through Housing First. We have some amazing examples of success in different local authority areas, however we also have examples where it isn’t working. We see people at times being ‘squeezed’ into Housing First when they maybe don’t quite fit the criteria. This is done with good intentions due to a lack of appropriate models of support. I believe we need to develop new housing and care led approaches for people where Housing First hasn’t worked or isn’t wanted.

We recognise there is still a need for many individuals to receive support and live in supported accommodation that specialises in learning disability, justice, alcohol and other drugs and mental health. However, many individuals who need an intervention in these areas would be able to live in supported accommodation that is focussed on health (Physical and Psychological) and social development. We do not believe that supported accommodation needs to be solely for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness but we recognise, due to the way we fund services in Scotland, the pressure is currently placed predominantly on housing departments to pay for this. Ultimately, we don’t believe that supported accommodation should be seen specifically as a housing and homeless resource. We are currently developing a supported accommodation approach that focusses on someone’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing. This may be a long term / forever or a short-term approach where someone supported in Housing First could have two weeks respite to stabilise their wellbeing and go back to their house, rather than giving it up due to these challenges.

We recognise that we are not going to solve homelessness by focussing on services alone. For years we have used the delivery of Housing First, staying true to fidelity of the approach, to bounce of different parts of the system and make change from inside a service. Housing First provided the platform for discussions on changing the wider system, it’s now time to change the rest of the system.

We have started our journey in partnership with Fife Council, to step out of services, and focus on the system, that we all operate in and are all part of, to prevent and end homelessness. Where we can’t prevent homelessness we aim to make it brief and non-recurring. We believe that whatever door someone comes to for support, it’s the right door, and when they go through that door, they will be met with a co-ordinated response from agencies. This is what we mean by a Whole System Approach.

We are currently faced with some unprecedent challenges in Scotland around Homelessness and Prevention. I believe that Turning Point Scotland have a huge part to play in delivering quality Housing Support and Housing First services across the country. We want to and can do more as we develop our Whole System Approach, housing and care led models of support and deliver more integrated health service provision such as our Health Clinic in Aberdeen and developing a specialised Housing and care led approach to hoarding in Perth and Kinross. We know that we can’t do this alone and we need to work together with all partners to deliver what’s best for people.

Nicky Miller, Head of Homelessness and Prevention.

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