From an early start this morning – we are now in transit on the way to Kharkiv – in Ukraine – to begin a series of visits to schemes run by Depaul Ukraine. I am with three other members of the London Housing Foundation Board, and this visit is part of a longstanding relationship between Depaul International . Having joined the Board last year, it has taken some time for me to understand this key relationship between the two organisations – and I know that this trip will be both inspiring and challenging – based on this morning’s antics – in equal measures!
The relationship with Depaul International has spanned the last 7 years, and the Board took the decision to provide ongoing funding for a number of reasons. The rise of Eastern European homeless people in London has been well documented, and through the LHF I have visited both the No Second Night hub in London and spent time with the Thamesreach outreach team, where the support and active engagement with this cohort has been a very prominent part of the service. The LHF see the relationship with the Ukraine, and with projects in Bratislava as a way of developing more concrete understanding of the London Homelessness provision, and at the same time learning the lessons that the development of new provision in cities with little or no existing services and finding ways in which this information can be shared.
Over the next 48 hours I will be visiting services working with homeless families in crisis, government homeless shelters, meeting the Head of Service for children in the Kharkiv region, visiting a number of food shelters, spending time at a project for mothers with children in Korotich and meeting and staff from Depaul in Odessa. Will try and keep a regular update on these projects, as I know that there will be much to share – particularly with an eye on how Sitra will be developing our work in this part of the world over the next few years.
Sitra has recently been successful in securing European funding to lead a partnership of European wide bodies and partner nations in the development of core competences for housing support across Europe. I know this trip will provide me with a much better understanding of how the perceived practice and approach adopted in UK housing support can be applied across Europe. In addition, I will be looking to understand how the concept of coproduction exists, and where it will draw it’s comparators in other countries to think carefully about how to embed this practice in the European wide competences.