A portrait of Mark infront of a cream wall. He smiles at the camera, has white hair and is wearing a navy blue tshirt.

Frontline Forum: The Power of a People Approach


By Mark Cairney, GHIFT, ALT

Mark Cairney, GHIFT member and our latest addition to the ALT reflects on the opportunity and creativity in the Frontline Forum.

WHEN – Seeing the Workforce as People

As I left my first face to face Frontline Forum (and only the second one to take place), I felt re-energised, optimistic, and proud to be one of many people in a unique evolving Alliance.

Having an opportunity to meet with people from a diverse Alliance workforce has provided me with insights into individuals lived experiences as well as my own homeless journey of change and discovery. The power of a People’s Approach is embedded in our Frontline Forum as this approach sees people interdependent on one another, living, working, feeling as one -homelessness is all of us!

The terminology “Frontline” became more meaningful too as I listened at our Frontline Forum to an array of inspiring reflections of adversity through Covid 19 and the impact of loss and isolation has had on individuals’ family and working lives. Yet, with this adversity, came courage and creativity and a collective determination to develop value based reflective practice with the physical and mental health and wellbeing of people at its core.

WHERE – Co-production in Action

Access to shared collaborative space is a goal of our Frontline Forum. As I became more relaxed during our Forum (took a wee while), I became acutely aware that this was more than just a forum to let off steam. Our Forum was a continuation of “co-production” the very heartbeat of the entire Alliance. I was helping make an inclusive, learning space where my thoughts and feelings were listened to, valued, and acted upon. That felt good!

We embraced the richness of Alliance Partner’s opinions over Trauma Informed Practice, and I enjoyed debating what “compassion in the workplace” looked like. (Really need to do that again!). I could see already new understanding and new relationships developing encouraged by great facilitation.

WHY – Building on Difference and Diversity

This recognition of organisational culture and diversity did highlight that we must challenge our traditional ways of thinking and working and explore new partnership knowledge and skills. Our Frontline Forum has generated the beginnings of a sense of personal and collective responsibility and accountability as well as ownership.

How does my words sound to you?

Our Frontline Forum has the potential for all of us to be the nucleus of shared experiential learning! No Big- Bang but an evidence base that evolves into new benchmarks of quality and transformed into innovative service pathways that achieves “What’s Best for People”! (Calm down Mark, keep this real).

Sounds fab hey! But this will taste even better if we don’t let this become an unfulfilled jargonistic sound bite. I’ve heard too many of those throughout my own painful homeless journey. These are my words, and I am determined to make them a workable” people’s reality” grounded in Best Practice with real teeth.

HOW – Creative Courage

It’s therefore crunch time! (couldn’t resist the link). Yes, the Alliance is already anchors away sailing in a boat not yet built (you must read Ruth’s amazing Blog!) The Alliance boat is already showing foresight and ambition moving “upstream” (meaning its confronting the root causes of homelessness) as others chew over the worries of change.

Our Frontline Forum can enable us to navigate the savage sea of the cost-of-living crisis and surf digital and data change with creative possibilities rather than with anxiety. Equipping therefore frontline people with the mental and physical resources, which enables them to continue to be flexible, responsive, thriving, people of Glasgow.

Our Frontline Forum has given me more courage to reach out to others in a safe and brave place/space. The Alliance has an ocean full of people with courage and creativity! So, with people at the helm, let’s transform our assets and talents into a powerful momentum of change and use our Frontline Forum to steer the Alliance’s future together and finally eradicate homelessness.

Visit our page on the Frontline Forum for more information or email hello@glasgowalliance.org to be added to the Frontline Forum mailing list.