Blog: Flexible, determined, client shaped approach to service

By Grant Campbell, chief executive at Glasgow City Mission

We’re exactly half way through the delivery of this year’s Glasgow Winter Night Shelter. December was wet and horrible, January looks like it’s going to be wet, cold and horrible.

Glasgow City Mission is really grateful for the support we receive from housing associations and other partners in helping us delivery this much needed service. With over 350 unique individuals accessing it each year the need is as great as ever.

We’re conscious that there is a lot of money being spent in the sector and many incredible projects and initiatives to help people more forward in their lives. We enjoy the stories as well as the statistics that tell us that there are lives that are being transformed.

One of the questions we’ve been wrestling with recently is ‘are our services and others in the city shaped around what is suitable for our staff and volunteers rather what is suitable for our clients’? This is brought into stark focus when working at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter.

We regularly meet people there who have incredibly complex needs, and while there are services that can help them we can inadvertently create barriers which prevent clients accessing this services. Many services require appointments, or operate between the hours of 9am – 5pm. People are asked to travel to several locations all over the city to get help, to sign on, to get a food parcel, to meet with friends.

The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter

I don’t come from a background of poverty and as a practitioner it’s important that I better understand the life journey, and daily wrestles our clients face. Another lesson we’re learning is that services and access to services need to be simplified, flexible, client focused, client shaped and where possible client led.

We do know in Glasgow there is a shortage of appropriate accommodation. We need to continue to see a growth in a variety of different types of housing solutions. I love housing models which prioritise the accommodation and build the additional services around a stable home environment. Whether that be Housing First or Housing Options, we need a flexible client shaped approach, which has a steely determination to succeed.

Collaboration is also got to be a theme in the sector. We need each other and need to understand each other better. All of this adds greater value to all our unique services as well as delivering something more substantial to clients. We all know we need to work hard at what we’re doing. Let’s do it together.

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