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A Year in the Life of the Frontline Network

A Year in the Life of the Frontline Network

A Year in the Life of the Frontline Network

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

David Barclay reflects back on his year spent working on, and developing, the Frontline Network.

What a difference a year makes! When I joined the team at St Martin’s in August of last year, the Frontline Network had very recently been launched, and many of its features were still being figured out. Just twelve months later and we have a clear and compelling initiative, with great partners and a range of resources to help those on the frontline working with homeless and vulnerably housed people.

One of the major developments in that time has been the launch of the Frontline Network website, which happened in January of this year. Developed with significant input from frontline workers, the website has a range of resources which are now being taken up by people in a variety of contexts across the country.

The Forum is allowing people to share best practice in overcoming some of the many challenges of working at the frontline, as well as creating a space to discuss topical issues affecting homelessness in the UK.

The Ideas Board has seen some brilliantly creative suggestions from frontline workers, which we have been able to fund and turn into reality.

And the ‘News and Views’ section has highlighted some amazing initiatives and people who are inspirational in the way they are working with some of the most marginalised people in our society with passion and determination, despite some extremely challenging circumstances.

The main aspect of my role has been working with our amazing partner organisations across the country who have been facilitating the Frontline Network in their local area. They have worked extremely hard to create new communities of frontline workers, and have brought great energy and imagination to making their work attractive to people who are, as a rule, extremely busy and time-poor. More than 25 events have so far been organised, attracting almost 700 people from at least 150 organisations. These events have introduced people to each other, to new ideas and to new resources which can help them in their roles.

Some of the recurring themes have been around mental health, dual diagnosis and Psychologically Informed Environments, as well as how to develop collaborative practices amongst frontline staff in an environment where services are often being pressured to compete for funding.

Another highlight of working on the Frontline Network was the National Conference we ran in the Autumn of 2016. Hearing the personal stories of frontline workers and what motivated them from the main stage was a profound experience, and when one shared their story of how a support worker had effectively saved their life when they were experiencing homelessness, you could have heard a pin drop in an auditorium of over 200 people. It was a perfect example of what the Frontline Network is trying to do, giving voice to the experiences, struggles and views of those who are closest to the ground and who therefore have a unique but under-recognised perspective.

As well as helping out on the Frontline Network, I have also led on the evaluation and development of the Vicar’s Relief Fund, our emergency grants programme. Working with a team from the London School of Economics, we have sharpened the focus of the Fund without losing the key elements valued by frontline workers – particularly the speed of response and simplicity of the application form.

We’ve also created the platform for more work to better understand the impact of our grants, which we know from anecdotal evidence can make a huge difference in enabling frontline workers to achieve significant positive outcomes for the people they are working with.

Overall it’s been a busy year, but a hugely enjoyable and productive one. The Frontline Network is now firmly established, and I look forward to watching it continue to grow and make a significant contribution in tackling the crucial issue of homelessness in the UK.

News and Views

  • Brain Injury Guidance

    Brain Injury Guidance

    Leigh Andrews of Change Communication offered specialist advice on brain injuries and homelessness through a digital...
  • End Furniture Poverty Survey

    End Furniture Poverty Survey

    End Furniture Poverty have recently spoken with the Frontline Network to discuss their important ongoing survey, seek...
  • Cover the Cost Campaign

    Cover the Cost Campaign

    Jasmine Basran, Senior Policy Officer at Crisis, talks to us about the Cover the Cost Campaign, asking the Government...
  • VRF Impact Report 2018/19

    VRF Impact Report 2018/19

    Over the past year we have given out 3827 grants totaling £1,156,805 through the VRF. Read the latest Impact Report t...
  • Influence from the Frontline

    Influence from the Frontline

    Frontline workers are crucial at giving insight into the viewpoints of the people they work with as well as the chall...
  • The Vagrancy Act

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    Crisis, along with others including Homeless Link, Cymorth Cymru, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s, Shelter Cymru and the Wall...
  • Influencing local decisions

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    Zoe, Frontline Network Coordinator at Coventry Citizens Advice, talks to us about the Coventry Frontline Network and...
  • The Litigant in Person Network

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    Martha de la Roche, Network Development Manager at Litigant in Person Network (LiP Network), tells us about The LiP N...
  • VRF Impact Report

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    Find out what impact VRF had last year and how to get involved in shaping its direction in the coming year.
  • Housing First Scotland

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  • Slaying the Dragon

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    Will Golding, Edinburgh Tutor at Crisis, talks to us about 'Slaying the Dragon'.
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    Dan Norris, from CPAG, talks to us about a new Early Warning System to record the impact of benefit changes implement...
  • The Hostile Environment

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    Bethan Lant, a Project lead from Praxis, writes about the creation of a hostile environment for migrants and refugees.
  • Wrexham’s Crisis Cafe

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    Sinead Kelleher writes about Wrexham's Crisis Cafe, a multi-agency response to Universal Credit.
  • Frontline Worker Survey

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    We are asking frontline workers to participate in a survey, aimed at those working with clients who are experiencing...
  • A map through conflict

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    A Cyrenians Mediator writes about their innovative Amber Mediation and Support Project, a model of mediation and supp...
  •  “A place to call home"

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    Hannah Gousy was seconded from Crisis to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) to help design policy recommendations to...
  • A London Nightshelter

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    On 7 November we opened our church-based shelters for the winter with more churches signed on then ever before. Glass...
  • 'Step Up' at The Connection

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    Wyn Newman introduces the volunteer programme 'Step Up' that has been developed at The Connection for service users.