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June 15, 2018

Eilidh Morrissey

May 30 – the journey so far and our flagship tools event

On May 30 we brought an intimate group of change makers and leaders together in Edinburgh to celebrate the fact that we are now fully up, running and have launched the first iteration of our flagship tools

If you could not join us on May 30 and would like to learn more, full videos of the presentation and panel discussion are available for you to watch in your own time.

We’ve moved quickly in order to release our flagship tools as they responded to a clear and immediate need in the homelessness sector. There was a sense of that momentum in the room.

Led by chair Terrie Alafat, we discussed our approach and journey so far and introduced the Evidence and Gap Maps and Evidence Finder, the Intervention Tool and also our SHARE framework, with contributions from Dr Howard White and Prof. Sarah Johnsen.

We were delighted that Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP announced during his keynote speech that the Scottish Government have asked the Centre for Homelessness Impact to extend our work to develop an outcomes framework that underpins current efforts to undertake an options appraisal for Scotland’s new national data system on street homelessness.

The presentation was followed by a panel session chaired by Terrie Alafat, with contributions from Jon Sparkes, Maggie Brunjes, John Mills, Jo Bibby and Campbell Robb. That and the following Q&A covered an expansive area: from the potential of a new national data monitoring system, to the opportunities for supporting Local Authorities, to the importance of bringing health and housing together.

Over the course of the morning we highlighted key issues that we are focusing on at this point in time, which will form a series of posts. Here’s a snapshot of what these might cover:

Creating our own Google Maps for homelessness

We know where we want the homelessness sector to be – making impactful decisions informed by reliable evidence. But how can we map the best route from A to B? Our flagship tools are here to help.

Let’s talk lemons

We explored what looking back to the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) can teach us about the importance of applying different types of evidence in our efforts to end homelessness more effectively today.

Context is crucial

Evidence-based policy is not a blueprint approach. Interventions and approaches that have worked elsewhere may well work less well, or better, here. What does this mean for our work, when so many of the studies for homelessness interventions are from the United States of America?

On instinct

What already works (instinctively, or anecdotally) but lacks evidence? This should be a priority – in particular as we know from other fields that many things that seem like ‘no brainers’ don’t work once subject to rigorous evaluation – and we also need to be willing to be proven wrong.

On opportunities

Our maps show hotspots, spaces in which evidence shows positive impact that isn't currently being acted upon. There’s work to be done in identifying these hotspots, and more to be done together towards putting that evidence into action.

What happens next?

With our Evidence Tools launched and available, we have established our baseline. It’s shaping up to be an active next phase of the Centre’s work:

  • We are planning to design new trials on issues relevant and timely to the sector.
  • The gaps as identified in our maps explain the areas in which it is appropriate to conduct reviews. We are planning to conduct systematic reviews in areas such as Housing First, discharge programmes and the cost effectiveness of different interventions.
  • The SHARE framework highlights the role that critical thinking can play in enabling people to act on reliable evidence. We’re going to use that to inform our partnership with Clore Social's programme for emerging leaders in housing and homelessness sectors.
  • We will also develop a systems model for homelessness in partnership with our Senior Fellow Tim Hobbs and his team at Dartington Services Design Lab.
  • It’s not all about evaluations. We want to help you make better use of data. The scoping of an options appraisal for Scotland’s new national data system on street homelessness forms our first contribution in this space.

We appreciate all your support and interest so far and we’re now looking forward to helping you use reliable evidence and data to achieve better results for people experiencing homelessness or at risk. We can’t do this alone and most importantly – we don’t want to.

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