During the summer, the GM Housing First partnership had a visit from our counterparts in Cardiff as they sought to share learning with and learn from our joint experiences of running Housing First Programmes. Katherine Pace (Cardiff Council Housing-Led Manager) and Rebecca Donovan (Cardiff Council Housing First Co-ordinator) tell the story of their visit in this blog.
"We arrived at Great Places’ head office and were instantly met by Project Manager Mike Hughes, who we had previously only met over video call to discuss the GM Housing First Scheme and arrange our visit.
We started the day with a lovely brew with Mike and his colleagues from the Central Team, Emily Cole (Programme Lead) and Dan Allman (Quality and Assurance Manager). We spent some time talking about the growth of the project since initiation in 2019 and how the project has upscaled.
We shared our experiences and challenges and quickly identified that our teams face similar challenges but, because of the amazing people we have working on our projects, we have been able to continue to deliver high-quality services to people experiencing homelessness.
As well as meeting with Esme Davies (from the GMCA commissioning team) and hearing about the positive relationships that Great Places have with the commissioning team, we spent some time with the Co-Production Panel.
We sat around the table with Co-production lead Matt Kidd and four people from the co-production panel. It was really inspiring to hear about each of their experiences and how, with the help of their Housing First engagement workers, they have been able to be a part of a meaningful group that allows them to have a say on future delivery of the project.
It was very clear that the Co-productional panel meant a lot to them and had really made a difference to their lives. We didn’t stop laughing throughout the session and valued each person’s experience and input.
We were treated to a lovely lunch with Mike and the team in the canteen and took a group photo which was a lot of fun.
We got the chance to meet several frontline workers from different boroughs and spent the afternoon listening to case studies and experiences from Housing First Engagement Workers and managers and had open discussions about housing challenges and successes. The session was a good opportunity for reflection, and it felt like we all left with feelings of pride and motivation.
Overall, our experience of visiting Greater Manchester and Great Places HQ was warm, friendly, and insightful.
We felt that Mike had co-ordinated the day perfectly and we came away with everything we wanted to know and more and, most importantly, the feeling that we are all facing the same challenges on a national level but are part of an exceptionally important and fantastic network of services.
We had a great day. Thank you to Mike and everyone who are a part of the team for making us feel so welcome."