Exeter Homeless Partnership is a project that seeks to find better answers to the question ‘how do we end homelessness in Exeter?’ Our 3-year Comic Relief grant enables us to take a ‘city wide’ approach to the challenge; given that the costs and consequences of homelessness affect us all.
We have some excellent project and services across the City, both preventing and resolving homelessness, but it isn’t enough.
We have a thriving business community impacted by homelessness, but conversations (about homelessness) don’t seem to happen that often.
And we have the people that live in Exeter, who have a wide range of views and feelings about issues such as rough sleeping.
But it isn’t just rough sleeping. Homelessness takes many forms, so the chances are that all of us, to some degree, have a relationship to homelessness, be it as:
- Shoppers unsure whether to give to people begging
- Tenants struggling to afford their rent
- Colleges and Universities supporting young people who are 'sofa surfing'
- Colleagues who know that someone is struggling and only one pay cheque away from being homeless
Or simply as human beings, who know that no-one deserves to be sleeping rough. So what can we do differently, better or smarter?
Trying something new
We visited Manchester last year and learnt about how they have started thinking about homelessness 'as a City'. We will be taking on some of their ideas, and learning as we go. These ideas include:
1. Asking and not assuming what people’s views are on homelessness, and creating a ‘Charter’ to set out our shared commitment
2. Making sure people with lived experience of homelessness are involved as equals, and offered training to help ‘get their voice heard’
3. Creating groups focussed on specific (homeless) issues to generate recommendations & ideas
4. Making it easier to find and get help
5. Forging relationships across the City to try new approaches to things like giving, campaigns and corporate social responsibility
Crucially, our intention is to ‘learn as we go’ rather than assume that we know best.
What difference will EHP make?
Ultimately, we want to prevent and reduce homelessness in Exeter and create a whole community response to homelessness through 'co-production'. If more people are involved and those closest to homelessness are empowered and included in decision making, then change happens more quickly and what we create will be more effective. It's too big and important a challenge to exclude anyone or any sector from being part of the conversation.
How can I find out more?
Following our formal launch on World Homelessness Day (10th October) we will be reaching out to try and hear everyone’s views on homelessness, so that any Charter we create reflects your values and vision rather than what we think. Whilst our focus will be to find compassionate solutions, we do need to hear all sorts of views and opinions - there’s no ‘right’ answer or way to think.
There will be a number of events and ways to get involved over the next 6 months but for now, please:
- Go to Street Support if you need to know what support there is, or want to offer assistance
Drop us an email at:email@example.com
Look out for listening events, pop up coffee shops or online questionnaires – basically anything with our logo on it!
What is Street Support?
Street Support is a purpose built web site offering a ‘one stop shop’ for City wide homeless projects such as ours. The site boasts a number of uses, which we are only just starting to explore:
- A map and up to date information spanning all homeless services and support in Exeter
- News and info about our project, and others across the UK
- A centralised space for Exeter based homeless charities to share what they need, and for everyone else to share what they would like to offer.
We hope that in time, the relationships we develop with businesses across the City will generate offers of assistance, which we can direct to partner agencies who need it the most (using Street Support). Likewise, charities and other partners can post what they need; be it volunteers, furniture or expertise.
One example which we could explore and been successful in other areas is alternative giving – a way for members of the public to make ‘contactless’ donations in the City Centre. The scheme helps city centres to reduce begging whilst ensuring that the generosity of its residents goes where it is needed the most – directly helping homeless people with specific items or things that they need. Watch this space…..