Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group minutes: November 2017

Minutes from the third meeting of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group held on the 22 November 2017.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jon Sparkes (CEO, Crisis), chair
  • Russell Barr (Church of Scotland)
  • Maggie Brunjes (GHN)
  • Mike Dailly (Govan Law Centre)
  • David Duke (Street Soccer)
  • Josh Littlejohn (Social Bite)
  • Lorraine McGrath (Simon Community/Streetwork)
  • Susanne Miller (Glasgow City Council)
  • John Mills (Fife Council & ALACHO)
  • Shona Stephen (Queens Cross Housing Association)
  • Alison Watson (Shelter Scotland).
  • David Signorini (Deputy Director, SG Better Homes Division)
  • Catriona MacKean (Head of SG Housing Support and Homelessness Unit)
  • Marion Gibbs (Team Leader, SG Homelessness Team)
  • Julie Stuart (SG Homelessness Team)
  • Lynn McMath (Crisis).
  • Ian Brady (Chief Operations Officer, Depaul International)
  • Nicola Harwood (Associate Director – Prevention, Depaul UK)
  • Beth Watts (Heriot Watt University)


  • Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick (Heriot Watt University)

Items and actions

1. Welcome

Jon welcomed members to the third meeting. Thanks were given to Ian, Nicola and Beth for attending and brief introductions were given.

2. Review of Question 1

Jon reviewed the question 1 recommendations highlighting the rapid work of the Action Group in developing these proposals, including associated costs and engagement, within the time since its first meeting. He noted that the Housing Minister was very supportive of this work and had direct contact with the relevant heads of councils about the developing proposals.

The Action Group then had a discussion which included other commitments that members have made to the proposals, such as increasing resources, and updating and refining the wording of the recommendations in preparation for an announcement. Members also agreed with a suggestion to engage with the Trade Unions at local and national levels. The proposals will be kept under review and any learning captured and acted on going forward.

Beth Watts provided an overview of the Community Hosting Working Group which met for the first time on Monday 20 November. The Working Group’s aims are to consider options as to how community hosting models can contribute to the 4 questions of the Action Group and to report on their findings to the Action Group.

Two proposals from the Working Group were put to the Action Group for consideration for the proposals for this winter. 1 - Ensure that where existing schemes currently operate (Edinburgh and from January Glasgow) all 16-21 year olds have access to Nightstop as one of their emergency accommodation options and 2 – as point 1 would require a change in protocol for local authorities, consider an official statement from the Scottish Government endorsing Nightstop provision, which would also encourage hosts to sign up.

The group agreed to incorporate these actions into its recommendations for action this winter.

ACTION: SG to consider appropriate Trade Union engagement including identify who to approach at a national level to supplement local discussions.

ACTION: Recommendations to be updated and include members’ resource commitments and the Community Hosting Working Group proposals

3. Ian Brady – reflections and lessons from the UK Government’s Rough Sleepers Initiative and Rough Sleepers Unit

Ian Brady, Chief Operations Officer at Depaul International provided the Action Group with a overview of his experience working with the UK Government’s Rough Sleeping Unit including the challenges faced in tackling rough sleeping in London at that time and expanding the Unit beyond London to larger cities in the UK. Ian was clear that cross-departmental cooperation driven by political leadership was an essential element of success as was having a strong communications strategy from the offset. Ian underlined the importance of a Homelessness Strategy which was central in his view to maintaining positive outcomes for such a sustained period.

The Action Group very much welcomed Ian’s insights and led to the Action Group discussing a range of issues which included the importance of local authorities involvement, having strong connections with services and outreach providers, the value of street counts and having support at the most senior level backing change.

Ian Brady and Nicola Harwood left the meeting after this Agenda item.

4. Question 2 – Ending Rough Sleeping

Due to time constraints, the Action Group agreed to a slight change from the agenda to allow the remainder of the meeting to focus on question 2. The Action Group broke up into small groups to discuss key aspects of the challenge in ending rough sleeping before meeting back up again to feedback their deliberations.

Following the feedback, the group agreed that the aim for ending rough sleeping must be: to get to zero, and to go on to sustain this position through shifts to effective prevention. In addition, it was clear that 6 themes emerged from the feedback, therefore, the Action Group agreed to proceed with 6 work streams in building the recommendations for action against question 2 – ways to end rough sleeping for good; Prevention; Supply and Access; Frontline Support; Measuring Rough Sleeping; Legislative Framework; and Engagement, including with the business community. Members volunteered for each of the work streams, which are outlined at Annex A. The preliminary work from each of these work streams will be discussed at the next meeting with a view to finalising recommendations for Q2 early in 2018.

ACTION: Leads to define their work streams further

ACTION: SG to circulate feedback from the stakeholder event on 2 November to inform development of recommendations in each work stream

ACTION: SG to organise another stakeholder event in January

5. Taking Stock

There was a short discussion on the lessons learned from the rapid work required to develop recommendations for this winter which could be put into action immediately, while recognising that a different approach will be taken for the later questions which are focused on recommending actions for Government to take forwards with partners. This included agreement on the importance of the transparency and the governance of the Action Group to ensure the process, decisions and recommendations made by the Action Group are robust and credible.

The Action Group wished Josh success with Social Bite’s sleep out on 9 December.

Next meeting – 20 December 2017

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