SHAPE: Strategic Homeless Action Partnership in Edinburgh
Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of Bethany Christian Trust and Chair of SHAPE:
“SHAPE is a partnership of 28 organisations working among people who are homeless, or are vulnerable to becoming homeless in Edinburgh. SHAPE seeks to promote a co-ordinated and strategic approach to addressing homelessness and its root causes in Edinburgh.
“As a group of third sector organisations SHAPE aims to operate in partnership with others in the city to promote high quality and effective services, the involvement of users of homelessness services in the operation and planning of those services and to offer formal and informal opportunities for sharing best practice in response to the expressed needs of homeless and vulnerable people in the city.
“One of the key roles of SHAPE is in representing the views of members and service users in joint planning processes with the City of Edinburgh Council. This joint approach to the development of service provision in the city has been particularly successful in recent years in the development of Homelessness Strategies and homelessness services commissioning plans.
“Most recently SHAPE has worked in partnership with the council on the reshaping of visiting support services across the city. By establishing consortia of service providers it has been possible to maintain a high standard of service provision, avoid damaging competitive tendering and reduce overall costs.
“SHAPE short-life working groups have produced discussion papers on issues affecting service users such as access to mental health services, temporary accommodation provision and rough sleeping in the city. These short life groups have been a useful means for the Council and other partners to consult with homelessness groups in Edinburgh.
“Members of SHAPE feel the organisation has an important role to play in providing a forum in which organisations can share information and identify trends in homelessness across the city. In particular, members believe SHAPE is of greatest value when it acts on behalf of service users to influence policy and service provision. SHAPE can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in the city who risk being rendered voiceless in national and local decision making processes. SHAPE’s desire is, in some way, to be a voice for the voiceless.
“Acting as a collective group, SHAPE has a stronger voice and can play a more strategic role in the shaping of outcomes for vulnerable people than would be possible for any individual organisation or service user to achieve on their own.”
Councillor Cammy Day, the City of Edinburgh Council’s lead for Housing in Edinburgh:
“Input from SHAPE has been invaluable in developing our Homelessness Strategy which focuses on homelessness prevention. SHAPE’s ongoing involvement in homelessness planning with the council helps us to engage with a very wide range of 3rd sector services and continually improve homelessness services for people in Edinburgh through a collaborative approach. The number of homelessness presentations in Edinburgh has reduced year on year for the last 7 years, overall by 26 per cent, and this demonstrates the effectiveness of that cooperative work. These partnerships help us to deliver the best services we can to the people who need our help.”