December 30, 2020

2020 - A year unlike any other, but what have we learnt? 

Hannah Green

2020 has been a year unlike any other. A year of postponing, rejigging, adapting and learning. Seemingly both the longest and the shortest year on record, and a year where homelessness has been firmly on the political agenda. 

A year of being physically distant, yet more connected than ever before. 

I believe we can always learn something from times of crisis, such as this year and even in times of uncertainty, you can always be certain that things will get better.  

So, what has the team learnt from 2020?

When people find out what CHI has done in 2020 they tend to be surprised. From our COVID-19 Response Programme, to the Impact Festival, to the What Works Community Pilot and evidence surgeries, as well as the SHARE framework and multiple publications. These are all examples of us using innovative, person-led, methods to transform how we help people who are homeless or at risk, and all are meant to spark and catalyse change on a bigger scale. Although we have good reach, we’re still a small player in the struggle to put right a huge imbalance in how the sector organises its brainpower and resources - an imbalance which means that practitioners and policy-makers often don’t always have the information they need to improve results. This has been the biggest take away for me this year. To amplify our impact in 2021 we will continue to develop proposals to steadily grow experimentation in the field.” - Dr Lígia Teixeira, CEO

“The cliched 'year of unprecedented times' was a real time for growth at CHI. As our work plan pivoted to suit the changing needs of the sector, its scope and our team expanded. Yet despite many being recruited, interviewed, hired and starting work completely remotely, our new team doesn’t really feel new at all. We’ve retained the spirit of collaboration and curiosity but can now take on more and bigger things than ever before. 2020 saw us deliver our five-week long Impact Festival, our first ever End it With Evidence Campaign, the newest iteration of our What Works Community and countless new tools, resources, studies and more. 2020 taught me that team work really does make the dream work – and that physical distance isn’t necessary for social closeness.” -Eilidh Morrisey, Programmes and Events Specialist

"I've learned how genuinely dedicated the homelessness sector is to an evidence-led end to homelessness. Through our Impact Festival, and our End it With Evidence Campaign, as well as our many and varied partnerships, I've seen a commitment to problem-solving, innovation and creative thinking on a massive scale. I'm excited to see how we can support the sector more to make this a reality in 2021 and beyond" - Jade Bradford, Strategic Communications and Engagement Manager 

“This year has put the spotlight on the strength, dedication and determination of the sector that I already knew was there. What has become clearer though, is that listening mode is fully in gear with growing realisation of the importance of genuinely listening to and accounting for the views and voices of people with direct experiences of homelessness.

Based on this year I've got high expectations that 2021 can be a turning point for challenging our assumptions about what works so we can improve outcomes for anyone facing experiencing homelessness now and in the future.” - Faye Greaves, Head of Policy and Practice

“I think this year reinforced for me  the value of high quality research and data in accelerating progress, which is why I was delighted we could start publishing vital insights into what works to end homelessness more effectively.

2020 also highlighted for me the unique role of relationships, community and a strong network of people around us; both professionally and personally. I dare to say that what most people missed the most, definitely including me, was a hug from loved ones or a nice chat about nothing and everything during a coffee break after lunch. But at the same time, that yearning made me realise I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by that amazing group of people in all aspects of life - otherwise you wouldn’t have missed them as much!”- Guillermo Rodríguez-Guzmán, Head of Evidence and Data

I’ve learned that the evidence base on the effectiveness of homelessness interventions, although too scarce, is fastly growing. I’ve learned through numerous ‘Evidence Surgeries’ how much people working in the homelessness sector are interested in using this evidence. I’ve learned that the Centre for Homelessness Impact will continue supporting them in this journey.” - Thomas Gesmond, Researcher 

Above all what I will take from this year is the value of family, the importance of the concept of ‘home’ and an appreciation for my own privileges that allow me to speak fondly of those things. All the more reason why I felt proud to help take CHI’s implementation work to a new level, through projects such as the Housing Costs calculator, the user testing of the evidence tools or the new What Works Community Local Government Initiative.” - Keir McCluskey, Product and Implementation Lead

In 2020 I learnt what it means to be resilient. It’s not the absence of stress, difficulties or heartache: But having the ability, tools and will to deal with these challenges and keep moving forward. I’ve learnt that I have the capacity to be more resilient than I knew, and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the development of the new iteration of the SHARE reporting platform (watch this space!). - Sian Bradford, Senior Data Lead

“We are all capable of much more than I could ever have imagined, and resilience takes many shapes and forms”. - Catherine Buglass, Head of Corporate Services

“Your best self can only actualise if it’s cared for, and that caring needs to start with you. When everything else crumbles, you need to be there for yourself. I feel blessed to end 2020 in a new team with high expectations and even bigger ambitions. I’ve learned to trust that people want what is best for one another, and we need to act on that compassion now more than ever” - Nick Bartholdy, Evidence and Data Specialist  

“In 2020 we have seen worldwide struggle and crisis. I have been amazed by the work within the sector, and how adaptable the Centre can and have been to do what we can in the midst of this crisis. It is great to be part of such a hard working and dedicated team. Here’s to making further waves in 2021. Go Team!” - Virginia Murray, EA to CEO and Experiences Lead

What has 2020 taught me? 

Before I joined the Centre I had never really thought about, or appreciated the value of evidence and data. I’ve learnt that I love using it - as well as being genuinely useful, it’s actually pretty cool, which is not something I ever thought I would be saying.

Most importantly, this year has taught me that real experiences and stories paired with evidence and data is an incredibly powerful combination. 

What did 2020 teach you about what needs to happen to improve efforts to end homelessness? Let us know on Twitter at @homelessimpact 

For more about what we got up in 2020 read our latest newsletter, you can subscribe to receive it here.

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