Maggie Brünjes: SFHA and Homeless Network join up to Prioritise Prevention



Maggie Brünjes, who leads the Homeless Network, previews the charity’s upcoming annual conference and welcomes the SFHA as event partner.

The number of people making homelessness applications in Scotland went down for eight straight years. Over 40% fewer households asked local authorities for help in 2016-17 than in 2005-6.

So it has been frustrating and concerning to see this creep back up over the last two years; a 3% increase in 2018-19 following a 2% increase the year before.

It’s not inevitable that we return to the highs (or rather, lows) of 2005.  But what can we do better to prioritise homelessness prevention in Scotland?

We already know that the risk of homelessness is not shared equally and is largely shouldered by people with the least financial and social protection. And we know that homelessness often comes at the end of a range of other adverse experiences, meaning many missed opportunities to help earlier.

So how do we organise our activity and resources to be earlier, more targeted and effective?  How do we turn vague concepts of ‘upstream’ prevention into tangible, effective action? How do we harness the energy and knowledge of a passionate homelessness network across Scotland to connect what they know with the places and people that can help people earlier?

On 8 October 2019, these questions will be explored at our annual conference and we’d love you to join us. We are delighted to welcome SFHA as event partner and to showcase the wider role of housing associations and cooperatives across Scotland in preventing homelessness and the issues that drive it.

Salla Thomas, chief executive of SFHA, said: “We are delighted to be the conference partner with the Homeless Network. Providing homes and support for those most in need continues to be at the heart of what social housing providers do. With homelessness on the rise, the need for collaborative working, with long-term strategic thinking has never been more important.”

We’re already consulting on a prevention framework that will also be considered on the day. We need a framework that understands prevention:

  • At a population level to ensure policies around welfare benefits and affordable housing investment minimise future homelessness risk;
  • At a level targeted to those most at risk, protecting people from homelessness as early as possible;
  • At a crisis and emergency level, identifying the right interventions to achieve immediate effect; and
  • At a recovery level to prevent people coming back into homelessness.

For Scotland to reverse recent trends we need action at all these levels, with a careful balancing of our efforts between crisis and emergency responses and targeted early interventions.

Preventing homelessness is about improving lives today for better lives tomorrow.

  • CALL FOR WORKSHOP PROPOSALS. We want to showcase work that is having an impact on preventing homelessness in your area. Got something to share? There are also opportunities to join the conference as a sponsor or exhibitor. It’s all here: ghn.org.uk/about-us/events/
  • SFHA is sponsoring some conference places for its members to attend the conference and make sure the housing sector is at the heart of designing a new prevention framework and discussions on a new legal duty to prevent homelessness. First come first served, so please watch out for registration opening soon at ghn.org.uk.


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