Introducing our Local Authority Practice Network
As outlined in our previous blog, we have transitioned from our two-year partnership with five local authorities to establish a wider practice network that will benefit from and inform the next phase of our work. It will evolve over time using our iterative approach and all learning and outputs will continue to be openly available to others on our project website.
Who’s in the network
The network comprises of 21 local authorities from across England and Scotland, with more from Wales joining soon. All nine regions of England are also represented. The network includes a diverse mix of local authorities:
- 6 unitary authorities, 4 london boroughs, 6 metropolitan boroughs and 5 district councils
- A range of 226 to 6,482 presentations/ households assessed in 2019/20
- Likewise, households in temporary accommodation range from the single digits to 2,000+
- The majority are predominantly urban classification but there are a handful of rural areas
- There is a mixture of political control with the majority Labour-led
Each authority brings a unique perspective to the collective challenges facing homelessness services during the pandemic and beyond. These ongoing challenges, combined with the usual complexities of running a local authority homelessness service in 2021, make it vital to share knowledge, learning and exchange practice. Our network provides the collaborative space to do this.
Practice exchange events
Occurring monthly, our exchange events will be a regular mechanism for the network to get together. Events are tailored towards strategic, management and/or frontline workers, with an “unconference” approach used where those attending determine the specific issues and challenges they want to talk about. The overall theme for each event is determined by us or suggestions from network members. Exchanges in November and December focussed on Winter and CV19 second wave planning, with the notes available on our website for others to access.
Our most recent exchange last week looked at “Mediation as a Prevention Intervention”. Again, the notes from the session are accessible for others and we will be sharing a short practice document soon which brings together the outputs from this event and some work we’ve done on mediation. We will continue to share updates and learning from the events beyond the network and the focus for February’s exchange is “Case management systems and monitoring service performance”. Do let us know if you’re interested in this topic or have some good practice to share.
Other network activities
We want to make the network as useful as possible, whilst managing the time burden and keeping the tasks relevant and ambitious. As well as the exchange events, other features of the network will include:
- Early opportunities to test and use tools, resources and services we develop as part of our consultancy service
- Regular quarterly days with a focus on frontline officer involvement, reflective practice and peer support
- Quick access to other practitioners to “sense-check” ad-hoc questions or queries
- Critical friend support including ongoing service review support, performance validation and benchmarking
- Influencing and campaigning opportunities on important areas of policy change
- Crisis support at local events and relationship building with partners
The ultimate goal
Goal 3 of our current strategy is to demonstrate that homelessness can be ended in local areas. We want to evidence how we can influence system change across Great Britain in order to end homelessness in more places, not just manage it. With the network we hope to develop a group of local authorities that will join us on this journey; testing and learning with us and their peers along the way.
Although we have the network, we are always keen to collaborate with local areas that share our ambition and want support to do things differently. That’s why we’ll continue to share learning and resources in open-access formats on our project website, where you can also sign up for regular updates on our work. We are always looking for collaboration opportunities so please get in touch.
With excellent response rates to invitations and events, we would like to thank the 21 local authorities currently involved in the network. We value the huge wealth of knowledge they collectively hold and their dedication to sharing that knowledge and taking the time out of their busy day jobs to contribute. It has been so impressive and we look forward to continue working with you.
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