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January 15, 2019

James Cartwright

The Centre welcomes Andrew Hudson as the new Chair of its Board

By July 2019 it is our intention that the Centre for Homelessness Impact should be a fully independent entity with charitable status.

We begin the New Year and this next phase of our journey by welcoming Andrew Hudson as the new Chair of our Board. Andrew has a wide range of experience across the public sector, as Director General for Public Services at the Treasury (2009 to 2011), Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency (2004 to 2009), and Assistant and later a Deputy Chief Executive of Essex County Council (1999 to 2004).

Since 2012, he has enjoyed a portfolio of roles, including as a Senior Adviser at the Big Lottery Fund, and a non-executive director at Clarion Housing Association, Volunteering Matters, The What Works Wellbeing Centre, and Mayday Trust.  

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis says: “I am delighted that Andrew has been appointed as Chair of the Centre for Homelessness Impact. The Centre started as an initiative from Glasgow Homeless Network and Crisis, and right from the start the aim was for the Centre to become an independent organisation helping policy-makers, commissioners and practitioners work with the very best evidence of what works to end homelessness. Andrew’s appointment as Chair is another important milestone towards the Centre becoming fully independent. Crisis is pleased to be hosting the Centre currently, and under the leadership of Andrew and its Director, Ligia Teixeira, we look forward to the launch of the Centre as an organisation in its own right later this year, and to it making a substantial contribution to the sector’s work to end homelessness.”

Coincidentally, as Andrew joins our team he also leaves another, relinquishing his role as the Chair of Trustees at the Hackney Winter Night Shelter after four and a half years—although he intends to keep adding to his 15 years of volunteering there. As someone who has operated on the “front lines” for such an extended period Andrew is only too aware of both the recent increase in homelessness and the growing public awareness of the issue nationwide, which provides a better opportunity to tackle the problem effectively.

“These days, more and more towns and cities have people visibly sleeping on the streets,” he says. “And increasing numbers of people have become aware of the housing crisis, with the increased costs of home ownership and the fact that many of the private renting options are expensive and not of a high quality. Even people who aren’t affected directly know someone who is.

“The Centre has the potential to be the go-to place for evidence on what works in preventing and tackling homelessness at a time when there's a strong motivation to do so, with political interest reflecting public concern. One of the responses to austerity has been—from some people at least—a greater concern about their contribution to the society they live in, which is reflected in support for tackling homelessness. That's not to say that there aren't still hurdles to overcome, but we need to make the most of this opportunity, because the current degree of interest may not last.”

In just a few short months, the Centre has produced a range of resources for the sector, including the evidence and gap maps, evidence finder, SHARE framework, and intervention tool, as well as establishing relationships with the Campbell Collaboration, CaCHE, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, and the Wales Centre for Public Policy for example. Andrew is keen to build on these successes and strengthen relationships with our key stakeholders in the months and years to come, to ensure that the better evidence generated is beneficial to policymakers, practitioners, and funders alike.

“The point of the centre is to provide evidence that's rigorous enough to withstand challenge by other academics and other researchers, and simultaneously is accessible enough so that practitioners understand how it can be put into practice. We also have to have a close understanding of the various perspectives of people with experiences of homelessness themselves.

“There's a challenge about how we engage and listen to their voices so that, as we’re generating material, people who are or have been homeless, recognise what we’re producing as something that makes sense in their own lives. The way you deliver these services is very important, and needs to be done with humanity. We see that at the night shelter: the longer I’ve been involved, the more I think that the warmth of the welcome is more important than the warmth of the soup.”

With such an extensive background in public services, and more recently voluntary sector organisations, Andrew understands the need to maintain open and honest dialogues between stakeholders at every level, and has tried and tested experience of doing so with limited means. He doesn’t think that a shortage of resources should excuse not using evidence. On the contrary, “I recognise the pressures to keep basic services on the go, but that makes it all the more important to spend every pound in the best possible way.”

Taking the Chair at the Centre fills Andrew with optimism. “It’s a very good position to be coming into,” he says. “There is a very capable and results-driven team which has achieved a lot already, and the funding is in place. A lot of the usual excuses for messing up don’t exist. But that means I have a real responsibility to succeed. I care about the cause. I care about homelessness. I want to see it addressed as effectively as possible. I have a commitment to better use of evidence, and I’m used to sharing with organisations and working with people from different backgrounds. There will be a lot to learn, but I'm looking forward to getting started!”

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