Evaluation of Place-Based Work to End Homelessness in Brent

Learn about the work of the Brent Homelessness Forum which brings together partners across Brent to work together to end homelessness.

Holly Cooper, Housing Led Practice Coordinator at Crisis, presents its Brent Homelessness Partnership project and introduces the Brent Homelessness Forum, one of the Thematic Networks coordinated by CVS Brent. Each network brings together topic-based organisations to share information, find common ground, and identify areas for joint action for maximum impact. If you would like to represent your organisation at the next Brent Homelessness Forum, email brent@crisis.org.uk.

Place-based work is ‘a long-term approach to identifying, understanding, and addressing social issues rooted in the experiences, expertise and relationships that exist within a recognised geographic area’ (Renaisi). Crisis UK is working towards the goal of ending homelessness. With thanks to funding from The Berkeley Foundation, Crisis Skylight Brent has been working to deliver this goal locally through place-based work over the last five years, under the umbrella term Brent Homelessness Partnership.

The work completed so far includes establishing meeting spaces such as the Homelessness Forum, Community of Practice and smaller working groups, as well as delivery of tailored homelessness awareness training to local voluntary, community and statutory organisations. This work has also led to Brent becoming the first community in the UK to pilot Built for Zero, an initiative which aims to end homelessness for a specific population – in our case, Brent is focused on ending rough sleeping through partnership work involving collecting data, coordinating service delivery, and implementing improvement plans. Built for Zero has proven successful in communities across North America, Australia and Europe, and was launched in Brent last November.

An evaluation of the place-based work in Brent has recently been completed. This research combined interviews with 22 stakeholders across the voluntary and public sectors and 2 people with lived experience of using homelessness services in Brent, surveys completed by 31 members of Brent Homelessness Forum, individual case studies and multi-agency meeting observations. The results detail how place-based change has achieved the following aims:

  • Strategic learning – the extent to which efforts uncover insights that are key to future progress on place-based working in Brent and elsewhere.
  • Systems change – the extent to which efforts change the systems underlying complex issues.
  • Individual change – the extent to which efforts at a place-based level help to make the lives of people experiencing homelessness better.

The evaluation also provides recommendations for future place-based work in Brent and elsewhere.

Read the full report and findings

As highlighted in the evaluation, Brent Homelessness Forum is the main meeting space for organisations that support people experiencing or threatened with homelessness, meeting every other month at Brent Civic Centre. An analysis of the qualitative feedback received during the evaluation identified four ways that being part of the forum makes a difference: supporting clients, strategic impact, operational impact and partnerships, with 97% of survey respondents saying that being involved with the forum was very or fairly significant. One attendee advised:

‘The Forum is also a space for local authority accountability to the voluntary and community sector – it forces senior managers to reflect. In practice it’s more like a continuous conversation based on a degree of trust – a constructive challenge which leads to joint problem solving’.

If you would like to represent your organisation at the next Homelessness Forum, or enquire about getting involved in other workstreams under Brent Homelessness Partnership, please email brent@crisis.org.uk.

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