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Emily's blog - August 2020

This month marks a milestone for the programme as delivery scales up again and we start taking new referrals after a delay caused by COVID-19 and resulting lockdown restrictions.

Following a successful ‘virtual’ recruitment exercise, we now have new Housing First Workers in post across the partnership raring to go and start supporting people resulting in referrals being made via established Local Authority panels; we plan to take 172 referrals from now until Jan 21.

We are changing our delivery approach now that we have more staff in post with a switch to locality working. This means that Housing First Workers will be based in specific Local Authorities supporting people in that locality rather than across different Local Authority areas, we were unable to do this in year one due to the way the programme had to roll out across Greater Manchester.

This locality working will enable the further embedding of the programme and will help the visibility and responsiveness of the service. Delivery Partners will be able co-locate with key agencies and get a really good understanding of the local context to support a regional programme feel more local.

Our first year was all about building the partnership and getting the required infrastructure in place to ensure delivery; this year we plan to have more of an external focus using the arts to influence public perception of issues faced by people that are homeless and how people can end up without a roof over their head.

The start of this will be Legislative Theatre that is planned for September. Legislative Theatre brings community members, policymakers and advocates together into creative, constructive dialogue about policies and laws - using the arts to shape policy decisions.

The play is being designed by people with lived experience and led by Katy Rubin, founder of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC and will present original plays based on their experiences. We are really excited to get decision makers in the room to influence policy and practice change as a result.

Housing is obviously crucial to delivering ‘Housing’ First and we have just finished meeting with all Greater Manchester Housing Providers individually to review Year one, obtaining feedback to implement any required changes to improve delivery.

The feedback regarding the service being provided was universally positive with all feeding back the appreciation for the level of communication between delivery partners.

There was a real commitment to the approach and the support that is being provided even where there has been tenancy issues encountered.

This commitment is evident as we now have over 150 completions confirmed, which means that the GMHP partnership will strive to provide over 150 people on Housing First with new homes of their own. This is hugely appreciated as we could not effectively deliver the programme without this level of support from housing providers.

As COVID-19 continues to impact daily life and restrictions are changing in order to manage its impact, we are contingency planning to ensure service delivery continues if lockdown restrictions are re-introduced.

Lessons can be taken from recent experience where the service adapted delivery following Government guidelines and it will be important to plan local pathways into accommodation so everyone has a place to safely self-isolate when required.

When we developed the programme model we left space for growth to bring new delivery organisations into the partnership.

This was to enable responsive commissioning to emerging cohort needs identified after the first year of delivery.

We are currently developing a commissioning framework in order to do this and obtaining feedback from Local Authorities around any unmet needs that are being seen within the cohort.

We are planning for new partners to join our partnership in December so watch this space for further information.


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