To inform the options appraisal for a new Scottish data and monitoring system for rough sleeping, we spoke to people with lived experiences of homelessness in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
Involving those who will be using the data system at every stage of the design process is crucial to developing this future looking system and is integral to the Centre’s approach. This is because we are all about marrying the heart and the head: we believe that to progress towards ending homelessness sustainably, we need to focus not just on outputs, but outcomes. We knew that co-creating a shared vision of success for the system was very important and therefore vital that any eventual options represented the user voice. And, who has greater expertise on what good outcomes look like than those who have first hand experience of homelessness?
We decided that an important first step was to ask people: how can a system that stores information about you make positive changes to your situation? This will help ensure that the options that we are co-designing with a range of stakeholders (local authorities, statutory and non-statutory service providers and people with lived experience) has the voice of users at its heart.
We partnered with Glasgow Homelessness Network to facilitate six focus group sessions in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. We wanted to understand what a new monitoring and data system would look like for people to help us begin to imagine how it could accelerate progress towards meeting the goal of making homelessness rare, brief and non recurrent.
We met with around 60 people over the course of 6 user sessions, from a mix of backgrounds and experiences. Over the course of a couple of hours, we spent time hearing people’s stories — the circumstances that contributed to them losing their homes, their experiences of the homelessness system, and for a number of people who were no longer homeless, how they came out the other side.
The conversations focused on two main areas: how did people feel about their data being collected, shared and used in their support, and what were the points in their experience where sharing information with service providers has, or would have been useful?
Feedback from participants who attended the focus groups was very useful. Here’s some key insights:
“I don’t know how many times I have told my story to different workers, different agencies....it loses its impact by the fifth and sixth time you’ve told it.”
“the information I want to be shared should go on a system, in one place - I appreciate multiple agencies need the information” and another person used the example, “if you get an x-ray in Glasgow, the doctor will be able to look at it in Edinburgh. It follows me”.
“If somebody said ‘what you tell me just now is going on file and will be passed on to anyone that you want it to, so tell me what you think is important’ – I would want to be prepared for it and go into depth about why things happened, and what could have prevented it instead of just skipping it”
“I need people to listen, not just hear. I need to feel like people are invested in me, not just getting spoken at”. Another said “you may as well be talking to a computer at the council”
These stories have meant that we can represent the needs and concerns of people experiencing homelessness as we develop options for this data collection system. In particular, the learnings from these focus groups have helped shape a set of principles – the things that need to be considered as the system is built so that it works for everyone involved.
We are now drafting up our options appraisal and the report will be ready soon. We’ll also be developing prototypes to test with people across the sector.
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