Ideas into Action: An opportunity to look at Outreach through a different lens


By Renzo Cardosi, Head of Development, Right There and SDT Lead, GAEH

GAEH Service Design Lead, Renzo Cardosi reflects on the journey to create a new vision for Outreach in Glasgow.

Can we ever define with absolute certainty, “What’s Best for People”?  Particularly when we are all unique individuals with our own personal challenges in life.  A bold question requires a bold endeavour which, following several months work, has now got us to a point where we can say with some confidence, that we do understand what people who are currently transitioning through homelessness in Glasgow really need at each stage in their journey.

We’ve launched a specification that captures the myriad of complex challenges and barriers that a person can experience in this situation and offered a new perspective in terms of how we can approach support through (Outreach) service delivery. Highlighted throughout are priority “themes” that require to be firmly acknowledged, better understood and tailored support developed, to work towards achieving “What’s Best for People”.  This is the first service redesign approach the Alliance has focused on and from the outset, we did not profess to know all the answers.  This could not have been achieved by simply replicating previous models of engagement, as we know this concept needed to evolve – so how did we get here?

I have the privilege of leading the Service Design Team on behalf of the Glasgow Alliance – a group of knowledgeable and committed individuals that represent both service delivery and lived experience (GHIFT).  To confidently capture the current and relevant challenges faced by people across the city, we wanted to engage network partners in all shapes, sizes and job roles and ask them what the Alliance needs to prioritise, to effect positive change. Our method was a three-pronged approach:

The Glasgow Homelessness Involvement & Feedback Team (GHIFT), who are represented through our workstreams, conducted a desktop review of all the services within scope of the redesign.  This took the shape of an “appreciative enquiry” methodology, allowing for the successes and positive accomplishments of each service to be recognised and (moving forward) allow us to replicate what is working well.  This information was gathered, consolidated, and brought back to the team to be included in the specification, as it reflects the thoughts, insights and opinions of people with lived experience.

Following the GHIFT review, the second phase involved members of the Service Design Team visiting services and engaging with people we support, staff and managers, to discuss further both the intricacies of service delivery, coupled with what the Alliance must do to develop, evolve and eradicate homelessness in the city. Combined with the GHIFT report, the recurring themes gathered from seven services were created, demonstrating that there were shared views and frustration as well as many, excellent examples of innovation.

Finally, a high-level data set was collated from each partner to provide a geographical overview of general engagement intensity, caseload, capacity, resource costs and number of people supported, providing an opportunity to map the potential estimated reach required by the Alliance.  Following the completion of this process and on reflection, the group felt that the specification mirrors the view of people using the services (both current and previous), acknowledges both innovation and resource challenges from staff and managers and provides a bird’s eye view of the high-level structure required of the service itself.

With all that said, we’re still not finished.  The main challenge throughout this process, was ensuring we didn’t fail to capture the multitude of good ideas we heard!  This specification is different, because more of the same isn’t good enough for the people we collectively want to support.  Over prescriptive and mechanical approaches to support or service design don’t allow for flexibility, invention or adaptation. 

Therefore, it needs to be live, used as a constant reflection tool to develop each of the themes identified throughout and our progress evaluated at regular intervals.  It should be the catalyst for innovation and the logic model contained should be a thought-provoking sense check; are we addressing what we have been told is a priority? Importantly, with so many systems, processes, and procedures existing across multiple partners, communication and shared, solution focused dialogue will be essential.

The Alliance are looking for the wide range of organisations operating in Glasgow to complete a Partner Profile Document, outlining how they can contribute and support the development of this service and ultimately deliver “What’s Best for People”.  Even if you haven’t spoken to us before, please say hello – nobody has all the answers, you may just have a small approach that we don’t know of, that ultimately makes a huge impact.

Find out more about Outreach in Glasgow by visiting the YOU: Future of Outreach page.