To Heather Wheeler MP
Chair Rough Sleepers Advisory Panel
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Although I welcome the Government’s new Rough Sleepers Advisory Panel to support the upcoming Ministerial Taskforce, I firmly believe that any successful efforts to end rough sleeping requires the participation of all stakeholders at every stage of the process, with each having an equal say, co-production.
The Advisory Panel is made up of experts, charities and local government with the expectation that they will draw on their considerable experience and individual successes to support the Ministerial Taskforce. That being said, there is no representation of real lived experience of homelessness on the panel. The voice of those who have experienced homelessness is one that the Government should listen to, particularly as, you have acknowledged in your own words that “tackling homelessness is complex”.
The Government is “supporting those who are homeless and rough sleeping and bringing in the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier”, but surely that support cannot be created without listening to those who are or have experienced rough sleeping.
The argument that the working groups set up within the Panel on Data, Prevention, Interventions, Recovery and Long Term Societal Change, will co-produce their individual pieces of work is misguided, for who on the panel has the lived experience of homelessness to ensure that happens in a meaningful way?
As an organisation, Expert Link’s purpose is to use co-production to bring hope and change to those affected by combinations of homelessness, mental illness, substance and alcohol misuse, re-offending and victims of abuse and domestic violence. This approach is something that our Prime Minister has advocated for in the past by encouraging “shop floor” representation at board level.
Minister, we live in a world and a system that is gravitating more and more toward co-production, with most of the Rough Sleepers Advisory Panel members being advocates. I would therefore urge you to take a strong stance and lead our country to a better place through co-production by including lived experience on your Panel.
Head of Expert Link
Rough Sleepers – No Voice
Jon Sparkes CEO Crisis, Polly Neate CEO Shelter, Jeremy Swain CEO Thames Reach, Howard Sinclair CEO St Mungos, Jean Templeton CEO St Basil’s, Rick Henderson, CEO Homeless Link, Andy Street Conservative Mayor for West Midlands, Andy Burnham Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, James Murray London Deputy Mayor for London Housing and Residential Development, David Orr CEO National Housing Federation, Mark Lloyd CEO Local Government Association, Mark Meehan Director of Housing for Croydon and Chair of the London Council Housing Needs group, Gillian Douglas Bristol City Council, Cathy Hadfield Cornwall Council, Peter Fredriksson Advisor on Housing First to the Finnish Government, Lord John Bird founder of the Big Issue, Brooks Newmark previous Minister for Civil Society.