Paris or Bust…..
Earlier in November I attended the 1st Expert Consultation on Integrated Services and Housing in Paris. It was an international affair – with delegates from across Europe, USA, Australia, Japan as well as a number of representatives from the UK. The focus was on what integration of housing and services might mean, and critically what it might achieve in a universally understood climate of austerity. The consultation was arranged by the OECD and it is hoped that this will raise housing further up the agenda of the member nations, and has been driven through the social policy focus within the OECD.
This was my first experience of this kind of environment, and I felt that the UK is in a positive position to both contribute significantly to the debate – but also there was much to be learned from both the approaches of other countries to service delivery and configuration as well as understanding how policy development is informed. The focus on prevention in services inherent in the UK Supporting People agenda is of interest to European Union – and it is anticipated that this will drive some European Funding opportunities around prevention going forward. In addition, much of our work around cost benefits of intervention, understanding of social return on investment and early forays in Social Investment Bonds are either of interest or being mirrored in other countries.
The Housing First model was discussed at the OECD event in some detail, and I was reminded of the prevalence of this model in the US and across large parts of Europe. As yet it remains limited in its application in the UK, and for those with an interest in what this might contribute to our debate on how we deal with homelessness then the origins of the model and its founder Sam Tsemberis can be found here. I had first encountered Housing First through some discussions involving Nicholas Pleace, a leading Housing academic from York University. Nicholas produced a report (Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Housing Support Services for People with Mental Health Problems: A Review) was published by the NMHDU and brought together some of the challenges for the future funding and development of housing support. He focussed on the comparison between the wealth of data and longitudinal research, particularly in the US, which has driven investment in new models and ways of working. His comments are particularly pertinent when we look at the new challenges of seeking to engage new commissioners with housing support, without the back up of this detailed longitudinal ‘evidence’ base.
However, as our work on data has demonstrated, there remains a solid commitment within the sector to continue to evidence our work through the collection of common data. This week Sitra has launched a survey to all commissioners to prepare for the collection of national data in next Spring. Anyone wanting to know more about this essential project check out our pages on data – or get in touch directly.