On the 12th of February we hosted the first meeting of our new Advisory Panel to share our plans for mobilising evidence in support of more effectively tackling homelessness. There was a real sense of energy and purpose in the room.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants for their time and for their input, both those who attended in person and those who gave input separately.
The group is made up of a wide range of individuals from across government, the third sector and academia, all linked by a strong commitment to the use of evaluation and data to achieve better results to improve the lives of people affected by homelessness.
We used this first session to get to know each other and talk about what the Centre hopes to achieve and how, which we summarised in the mnemonic HOME. We also heard how participants felt we could make the biggest difference.
The group will support, advise and challenge the new Centre to ensure we are as effective as possible at helping change-makers harness the power of evidence to deliver better results.
We were delighted to see how keen panel members were to get stuck in. It was fantastic to hear their views on the big challenges the new Centre is taking on.
We talked about common barriers to the uptake of evidence and how existing evidence and data needs to be made more accessible to the people who can put it to use in government, services, and beyond.
We discussed what counts as good evidence and how reliable evidence and data is vital to delivering effective services that meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. They stressed the need to build better evidence on what interventions are most effective, by for instance investing in more large scale empirical evaluations, so we have a deeper understanding of what we should be doing to achieve greater impact.
We also talked about the nature of transformation and how it’s about change management as much as anything else. That’s why participants thought the new Centre will need to engage with a wide range of people and listen to the concerns and motivations of those trying hard to make a difference, do a good job of explaining to them what works and what reliable evidence looks like as we build trust over time.
That’s exactly the sort of help we need from the Advisory Panel. We value their collective experience and wisdom. We’ll be turning to them, and our wider community of supporters and partners, for advice, guidance and honest feedback in the years ahead.
Since our soft launch in December, we’ve been moving at a pace to create the foundations we need to achieve real impact. We are taking a ‘what works’ approach to our first year to ensure everything we do is as useful as possible. Our focus is delivery, to start doing some of the things we’ve been talking about.
We are developing a systematic map of evidence across the globe which will provide a launchpad for strategic evidence creation and use. And by synthesising the results of all relevant studies and evaluations into a Outcomes and Evidence Decision Tool like EEF’s, we will make utilising the complete spectrum of evidence as accessible as possible.
We spent time talking about both projects in small groups. We talked about what type of information they would like to see - top picks included cost effectiveness and case studies. And we spent some time discussing how we get people to use them and how, as well as the type of implementation support which might be needed longer term, e.g. a helpline, guidelines and checklists.
We also invited participants to imagine what the use and production of evidence will look like in 2025. This was so we could then work backwards and map the changes that need to happen to ensure more people - from ministers to frontline practitioners - use evidence in their day to day work in future. It was great to see participants’ brains at work, to see ideas sparking more ideas, and to hear their thoughts and advice.
This meeting was just the start of a much longer relationship. The next time our panel meets, we look forward to a more in-depth exploration of what an evidence roadmap for the sector looks like and in particular the types of projects should be prioritised and funded.
We want to lay the foundations that enable us to help create a learning sector, together. We know that we cannot do all the work of transformation by ourselves, and we don’t intend to try.
The board is Chaired by Professor Ken Gibb and its membership includes:
Terrie Alafat CBE - Chartered Institute for Housing
Alex Bax - Pathway
Amanda Beswick - Oak Foundation
Graeme Brown - Shelter Scotland
Sir Harry Burns - Strathclyde University
Jo Casebourne - Early Intervention Foundation
Andrew Connell - Wales Centre for Public Policy
Pippa Coutts - Alliance for Useful Evidence
Professor Dennis Culhane - University of Pennsylvania
Fiona Darby - HMCLG
Matt Downie - Crisis
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick - Heriot-Watt University
Claire Frew - GHN
Tim Gray - Brent Council
Nancy Hay - Wellbeing What Works Centre
Dr Tim Hobbs, Dartington Service Design Lab
Andrew Hudson - Hackney Winter Night Shelter
Kat Johnson - Institute for Global Homelessness
Dr Peter Mackie - Cardiff University
Patrick McKay - Turning Point Scotland
Susanne Millar - Glasgow City Council
John Mills - Fife Council
Luke Moody - Economic and Social Research Council
Professor Tomas O’Sullivan - Trinity College Ireland
David Signorini - Scottish Government
Duncan Shrubsole - Lloyds Foundation for England and Wales
Emma Stone - Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Claire Sweeney - Audit Scotland
Emma Williams - Welsh Government
Beyond our Advisory Panel we will continue to engage with our wider community of supporters and all other change-makers across the sector. Come to see us at our Open Demo Day, join our community, follow us on twitter, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter.
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