Sailing the boat as we build it: our journey so far


By Ruth McIntyre, ALT

As the Alliance hits a two-year milestone, Chief Executive of Aspire and Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) member, Ruth McIntyre, reflects on what we’ve learned in our journey and our hopes for what’s next.

Alliancing isn’t a fast way to do things but it’s better

One of the ALT members described our efforts as trying to sail a boat whilst we’re building it and to be honest, that’s exactly how it’s felt. 

We need to reach consensus in all our decisions.  This can take time, and not surprisingly we have different opinions.  But ultimately, we’re focused on designing and delivering services which are best for people.  People with lived experience are partners and embedded in everything we do.  Hearing actual experiences keeps things real.

As with everyone, we’ve had to contend with Covid: we went into lockdown one month after the tender was awarded. Now we’re moving out of Covid (hopefully), we’ve started having the wide and varied conversations we’d planned to build relationships and increase knowledge externally of our goals and how to get involved

So, not the easiest of starts, but we’re moving beyond that.

We’re really a ‘virtual organisation’ made up of ten partners pooling resources.  We’ve had to think quite differently in how we do things. We have a small core team supporting our efforts made up of really talented, committed people, hired last summer.  Getting them into post took more time than expected because of different employment structures we needed to create but now we’ve got that framework, it’s easy to replicate.

It’s constantly evolving

We’ve had some turnover of people on the ALT (responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of Alliance Goals). 

As with any group, people change which has meant that we’ve had to go back and bring new people up to speed.  Although that can feel a bit frustrating, it’s also good as new energy and ideas have come into the team.

We’ve spent more time than expected developing our legal frameworks, but hopefully we’re getting to the end of that now. It’s been important to get this right, but we’re ready for what’s next.

More of the same isn’t good enough

Any change is challenging and our task isn’t easy.  We want to push the needed change forward, but it won’t happen overnight.

We’ll have difficult conversations and we’ll all be taken out of our comfort zones, but that’s fine.  This isn’t about what’s best for our organisations or us as individuals.  It’s What’s Best for People and what we signed up for.

We had an independent review carried out and feedback of what we’ve done so far is that we’re in a good place. We feel on the cusp of a lot of things falling into place and generating real traction in moving things forward in the coming weeks and months.  We’ll make sure people with experience of homelessness remain embedded in what we’re doing.

A movement for change

We want to reduce the stigma of homelessness.  This is a horrible debilitating experience for anyone.  People who are or have been homeless are not ‘them’, they are ‘us’.

The people of Glasgow are well known for their generosity and compassion. We want to harness this to break down barriers.  We really hope we get the people of Glasgow, organisations etc on board, with ideas, money, support, compassion and kindness to help us.

We’ll make mistakes, no doubt.  We’ll have challenging times, that’s a given. But we need to be bold to help people realise their potential and have a future of hope rather than despair. 

Please join with us and help to end homelessness in Glasgow.

You can get involved in our work by signing up to our mailing list, or joining our exCHANGE events. Drop us an email at to find out more.