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December 24, 2023

Looking back on 2023

Sally Harper-Duffy

By Sally Harper-Duffy

This has been a challenging year for many of us. The cost of living crisis has led to greater precarity and inequality, especially for those affected by homelessness. In challenging circumstances we have, however, seen the power and strength of our local communities, the importance of human connection and the tireless work of those within the sector. 

Front-line workers, third and public sector staff, lived experience associates, volunteers and everyone involved in the homelessness sector continue to do brilliant work and we’d like to take a moment to recognise their immense contributions.  

Our mission at the Centre for Homelessness Impact is to create a society in which any experience of homelessness is prevented wherever possible or is otherwise rare, brief and non-recurring. In the spirit of reflecting on the past year and looking at steps we’ve taken to achieve this, we’ve asked some of our team to share their memorable moments.  

We’d also like to wish you and your close ones the best over this festive break and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2024. 

Graeme, Head of Programmes

“During 2023 the Centre has been involved with two projects which will greatly increase the evidence we have of what works to end homelessness. We delivered a Feasibility Study to the Department of Levelling up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) on projects that could be delivered as part of a Test and Learn programme to improve our understanding of what works to prevent and tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. This is part of the Ending Rough Sleeping For Good strategy published by DLUHC in September 2022.

“We were then delighted to be successful in our bid to deliver this programme on behalf of DLUHC. We will run a £15 million programme to introduce innovative and new approaches to prevent and alleviate rough sleeping and homelessness, which will be delivered by local authorities and providers of services to people experiencing homelessness. This will include rigorous evaluation of eight programmes (across health, employment and housing and other key areas), in addition to a systems-wide evaluation to assess and advise the government on how the overall system could be improved.

“The work to deliver this programme is already underway and we look forward to launching our grants process in the New Year. We will be seeking bids from local authorities, the third sector and evaluation partners to help deliver the programme and create new evidence in the field of homelessness.”

Nadia, Evidence Lead

“Having joined the Centre for Homelessness Impact in January 2023, there have been countless fantastic achievements squeezed into such a short time period. Most excitingly, we are celebrating the start of the Test and Learn Programme. 

“This is a huge moment for the sector, helping us to identify where best to invest resources and direct our efforts. Leading on the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) in homelessness programme has been a privilege. This will be the first time that this particular supported employment model has ever been tested with people experiencing homelessness in the UK. We have built wonderful partnerships with colleagues across IPS Grow, the Department for Health and Social Care, delivery partners across England and academics who have tested this model elsewhere (e.g. mental health services). We are extremely grateful for everyone’s insights and openness to sharing their wealth of knowledge and can’t wait to get going in 2024. It’s certainly an inspiring time, and most importantly a promising one, as we work towards improving provisions and care for people experiencing homelessness.’’ 

Paul, Implementation Lead 

“Christmas is a complicated time for people experiencing homelessness, and also for those supporting them. We know that currently, staff across the sector are experiencing substantial difficulties in terms of burnout and impacted wellbeing. In fact, 12% of client-facing workers who replied to Frontline’s most recent annual survey said they were worried about becoming homeless themselves.

“With the generous support of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, we have been working with What Works Centre for Wellbeing to better understand how to improve wellbeing for client-facing staff. Over the past six months we ran workshops with 101 staff members across 21 organisations. We heard staff describe the factors impacting their wellbeing from feeling valued for their work and feeling that work makes a difference, to pay and the cost of living, and repeated traumatic events. 

“Encouragingly, many people described how caring their colleagues were, and how having a compassionate and supportive workplace culture was important in protecting them from stress and burnout. We also confirmed that staff in this sector are resourceful, pragmatic and creative and that many solutions lie within harnessing their skills and experience.’’

Greg, Director of Communications and Public Engagement

‘‘In January we launched the UK’s first open source library of non-stigmatising images of homelessness in order to counter the common visual narrative that reinforces stereotypes of people affected by homelessness. We worked closely with homelessness service providers and people with personal experience of homelessness to commission and collate respectful and evidence-led images of people impacted by different circumstances: sofa surfing, living in hostels, supported accommodation, temporary housing, and reflecting the diversity of people who experience homelessness. This image library has had a very positive reception, with photographs downloaded more than 5,500 times by organisations all over the world. We continue to add new collections of images to this resource and remain grateful to individuals who participated in the project.’’

Niamh, Implementation Lead

“This year we kicked off our Value for Money programme, seeking to explore how local authorities across the UK can improve their economy, efficiency and effectiveness of their temporary accommodation provision, whilst also developing our understanding of the challenges those in the sector are facing in the context of increasing temporary accommodation rates. Through discussions with frontline teams, lived-experience interviews and workshops with core teams, we have worked with local areas to map systems, identify ‘challenge areas’ and hone in on opportunities for new and improved ways of working.”

To hear about our exciting plans for 2024, subscribe to our newsletter. We look forward to working with you next year.

Sally Harper-Duffy is the Events and Communications Lead at the Centre for Homelessness Impact.

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