The Best & the Worst of the Noughties

It’s getting a bit far into the year for retrospectives but I was prompted by a researcher this week to reflect on this question. What were the five best developments in the last decade that had the biggest impact on helping charities like Cyrenians to make a difference for in tackling homelessness?

The 5 Best…?

1. The Homelessness Task Force: Although established in 1999, the final report in 2002 launched Scotland as Europe’s most progressive government with a 10 year holistic strategy to end the causes of homelessness. The quality of Helping Homeless People is testament to the quality and passion of the people who drove it forward and it remains a source of inspiration and pride

2. The New Futures Fund ran from 1999 to 2006, with its heyday in the middle years. Deftly managed by Theresa Haran of Scottish Enterprise, NFF put decent funding into the front-line, helping us to find out what it takes to get the most unemployable making progress towards work. The cohort of agencies funded by NFF was allowed freedom to do what worked best while being accountable for honest results. I know dozens of people whose lives were transformed by New Futures. Our charity learned how to provide a pathway from deep-seated homelessness to a settled working life – lessons used in the design of our Enterprise Trainee Programme. Why did it stop?

3. The Health and Homelessness Standards were launched at Cyrenians Farm by the two ministers, Andy Kerr (Health) and Malcolm Chisholm (Housing) in 2005

‘Homeless people are among the most disadvantaged in our society, with poorer health and lower life expectancy than those who lead more settled lives. This is something we are determined to change and we see a key role for the NHS in tackling health inequalities by ensuring services are planned for, designed and delivered in ways that meet the needs of homeless people.’ The Standards, like Helping Homeless People, articulated a consensus that homelessness is more than being without a house and that effective solutions require joined up action. I hope they are still in use?

4. The Scottish Executive’s Futurebuilders programme gave us the funding in 2005 to employ Emma Hutton to lead our charity’s most significant ever organisational development process. Cyrenians learned how to do business well. Hundreds of people will have truly life changing opportunities in years to come from traineeships and jobs associated with our growing portfolio of social businesses

5. Competitive tendering of public funded services appears in the Best and Worst list. We lost out to a private company and had to shut SmartMove Edinburgh in 2009 but I still support the underlying principle that services getting public funding should be open to competition and replaced if they are not doing it for their customers. If the commissioning process is driven by quality and best value and if contract holders are prepared to continuously improve and change with the times, the end customer will be the winner. Make that a big IF…

The 5 Worst?

I’m checking it with my lawyers 😉

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