Is Coronavirus impacting your work? If so, how? How can service delivery be adapted? Share your thoughts!
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Very pleased to join the forum and learn with others how we all adapt to COVID-19. Our project. Exeter Homeless Partnership is funded for 3 years via 'A safe place to be'. The broad aim of the project was to introduce co-production into the homeless 'sector' in Exeter, and create cultural change which recognises the vital role of those with a lived experience of homelessness. Our intended outcomes included things such as a homeless 'charter' for the City; supported by interest groups which involve the public, local business and others in finding better solutions.
As for everyone else, the pandemic shifted our focus and challenged us to adapt to new working conditions, new challenges and the best way to deliver the principles and values which underpinned our grant application. The space, autonomy and overview afforded to our project helped recognise where we could have the most positive impact:
1) Supporting partner agencies across statutory and voluntary sectors to collaborate effectively
2) Create mechanisms to ensure homeless clients are consulted, involved and empowered
For the first area, we sought existing models which might help partner agencies to collaborate during an unprecedented pandemic. The pressures on services, budgets, staffing and the volume of information being cascaded and shared contributed to services and agencies being more fragmented. We advocated for, and eventually introduced a cluster management model which Groundswell developed from templates used in humanitarian emergencies. Their simple, 'common sense' guidance and model:
a) Empowered partners to appoint a 'lead' person for each cluster (for topics such as prevention, accommodation, food and livelihoods
b) Offered a non hierarchical way for partners to work collaboratively; recognising the expertise of each other
c) Brought a camaraderie to how we adapt
d) Offered a platform in which those with lived experience are equal partners
e) Enabled co-production to continue - trying new things, learning as we go and sharing accountability
The work is ongoing, and Comic Relief have been hugely supportive; recognising that we all must evolve to best meet this huge challenge. None of this is a 'solution' and we would not claim to have solved anything; but we are working smarter and more cohesively around homelessness. Many challenges lie ahead, but our hope is to ensure that underlying principles such as co-production and involving those with lived experience are maintained.
Tamarind Tree Associates, a Cape Town-based NGO consultancy, links to a thoughtful article called Leadership in Times of Covid-19: Essential Qualities, Skills and Practices in this newsletter: https://madmimi.com/p/1092d01
This Resource Hub from the Catalyst, a UK non-profit, includes info on digital service delivery for charities, tips for remote working, video conferencing and so on. Despite being UK-based, plenty of the principles apply wherever you're working. Worth a quick look: https://www.thecatalyst.org.uk/resources
Check out our new blog here: https://www.housingandshelter.org/post/covid-19-and-cop-members