Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group: Prevention Task and Finish Group minutes - October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Matt Downie, co-chair and Crisis
  • Ewan Aitken, co-chair and Cyrenians
  • Sherina Peek, ALACHO
  • Kate Polson, Rock Trust
  • Angela Keith, SOLACE
  • Nicky Miller, Turning Point Scotland
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • David Ramsay, Homeless Network Scotland, Change Lead
  • Gordon MacRae, Shelter
  • Alison Bavidge, Scottish Association of Social Workers
  • Shea Moran, All in for Change Team
  • Suzie Mcilloney, All in for Change Team
  • Pat Togher, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership
  • Avril McKay, Public Health, NHS Lothian
  • Laura Hoskins, Community Justice Scotland
  • Angela Leitch, Public Health Scotland
  • Ann Carruthers, West Housing Options Hub / Renfrewshire Council
  • Eileen McMullan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Also in attendance

  • Rhiannon Sims, secretariat and Crisis
  • James Mullaney, Crisis
  • Neil Cowan, Crisis
  • Ursula Hofeldt, Cyrenians
  • Jackie Borge, Cyrenians
  • Amy Hutton, Cyrenians
  • Janine Kellett, Scottish Government


  • Michael Wood, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland
  • Matthew Busher, Kingdom Housing Association

Items and actions


The chairs welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the task and finish group.

The chair described the task at hand:

  • to highlight what might be needed to support proposed legislative changes 
  • to focus on implementation both before and after legislation 
  • to act on the groundswell of support to the Scottish Government’s consultation while there is impetus
  • to show the rationale for necessary funding
  • to collaborate to ensure success

Setting the scene

Rhiannon Sims presented on recent homelessness changes in Scotland.


  • Slides to be circulated to members

Reflections on proposals

Group members shared the following positives and challenges:


  • partners are coordinating responses 
  • prevention is more effective than cure, a whole systems approach is needed
  • as housing is fundamental to health inequalities, the whole person or household needs to be considered holistically 
  • a wider public duty and extension to six months could be transformative
  • in our hierarchy of needs, so this presents an opportunity to collaborate and innovate 
  • this presents an opportunity to work out the role of public health
  • proposals to act early to sustain tenancies have the potential for early collaboration with other bodies to prevent homelessness
  • co-production learnings can be taken from Fife whole system approach
  • ‘ask’ and ‘act’ will allow us to build inroads with partners (health, education, justice) and educate on homelessness and hidden homelessness, especially in schools
  • more positive outcomes for service users
  • this could be transformative, if implemented in the spirit it is written
  • this can be incorporated into locality planning, in a place-based approach in communities 
  • the benefit of shared experience and knowledge
  • take learnings from Wales and England
  • opportunity to use the Housing Options toolkit 


  • resources, workforce and budget constraints
  • ownership of housing support plans
  • awareness/training of housing options with all partners in local authorities
  • radical changes are needed and staff capacity issues are likely to increase
  • supply and demand of housing stock coupled with shrinking new build delivery
  • reforms are often made from a service, not person perspective 
  • possible unintended consequences and gatekeeping 
  • impact of introduction of new concepts such as 'suitable and stable' housing 
  • differences in terminology and language cross-sector
  • there is a need for a broader understanding of what homelessness is
  • work will be needed to support change and upskill across sectors
  • there is a need for clarity around expectations and how success will be measured
  • a focus on young people at risk of homelessness is needed, as they may not know their risk 
  • we need to consider how to tackle obstacles such as how to ‘ask’ respectfully and how to  create trust in public systems
  • a need for consistent language 
  • the scale of reforms is a challenge, especially alongside existing challenges including displaced Ukrainian households, cost of living, and recruitment challenges
  • sustaining change may be challenging
  • a duty of ‘up to six months’ may be challenging to maintain 

Terms of Reference

The chair reiterated the group function is not to develop policy but to ensure the right questions are asked pre-legislation and where the group thinks there is a lack of consensus on proposals that require further attention, to minute that and include in the final output. 

The Group agreed the Terms of Reference with no changes. 


This was agreed as set out in the Terms of Reference. 

The chairs stressed the group’s task is to produce practical and specific actions to support the implementation of changes. 


The secretariat provided a brief introduction to the work plan. The chair asked the group whether they were content with the proposed timeline and goals of the programme, and to consider stakeholder engagement, including how to include people with lived experience.

The group raised language as a theme to be reflected in the workplan. They were content with the proposed programme of work and the stakeholder engagement plan. 

David Ramsay suggested widening engagement to those the group do not typically engage with. The Chair reflected this needs to be done at the right point to have the most influence.

Suzie Mcilloney reminded the group of the importance of feedback loops and ensuring people are involved.

Amy Hutton reflected that frontline and lived experience will overlap in many cases, such as with peer work roles.


  • secretariat to consider how best to incorporate the theme of language into the workplan
  • the chairs and secretariat to consider how to most effectively engage those with lived experience and present this at the next meeting 


The chair reflected that the size of the group should provide rigour and asked members to consider whether anyone should be included that is not currently a member of the group.

Eileen McMullan reflected that most of the group are from housing/homelessness sector and that perhaps there should be representation from other public bodies. The chair confirmed views outside of the core group will be sought.

Gordon MacRae said those in public bodies who are  “long term gatekeepers” may be mavens in finding out how change in other areas had been successful and how this was implemented.

David Ramsay raised the point that there is no representation from organisations who represent the interests of migrants at risk of homelessness and suggested the inclusion of Scottish Refugee Council. 


  • the chairs and secretariat to consider the best way to engage with these stakeholders 

There was a discussion about the value of learning from similar changes implemented outside the sector, for example, the GIRFEC and Violence Reduction Unit. Speakers can be invited to talk about what worked / what didn’t work. 

Angela Keith said she is involved in SHORE standards pilot so this will dovetail with stakeholder sessions.

Pat Togher mentioned the access role of adult/children protection committees and that they could tap into substantial workforces via questionnaires, which may yield responses and raise awareness.


  • James Mullaney and Ursula Hofeldt to consider how to incorporate these suggestions into their stakeholder engagement work.

End and Close

The Chair closed by saying we know the task and we want to create as much flexibility in this process to come up with best solutions. How do we make these proposals, which are a good idea, work? 

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