Communities of Practice

Monday, 10 April 2017 - 12:45pm

Communities of practice brings together groups of people who want to learn and share knowledge of the sector. 

Diverse working group

A community of practice brings together those with common interests and goals and works collaboratively to find creative solutions to the issues people face as they work with individuals seeking help.

Since July 2016, Homeless Link’s Partnership team, based across the country, has been developing this new initiative to harness the ideas, energy and experience of those in frontline services working alongside homeless and vulnerably housed people.

Communities of Practice have been coming together to better understand the challenges that staff face: how systems and processes can be improved, how strategies to support the most vulnerable in society might be positively affected by the work and passion that frontline staff have, and how by including the voice of those they support - needs can be met.

Homeless Link’s Partnership Managers for the north, Midlands, south and London, work with and seek out existing and new partnerships of our members and others. The aim is to identify those who would like to engage in a dynamic and important process, which enables frontline staff to meet, share their work experiences and knowledge, and effect lasting change for homeless people.

There is no fixed way to achieve the best possible outcomes for frontline staff via a community of practice. In several areas across the country, existing or new work launched for a similar purpose, has meant it has been possible to offer even more opportunities for local staff. In the North East for example, the Be the Change Network was founded by Homeless Link in 2014, to bring together frontline staff from the third sector that work directly with people who are homeless.

Since September 2016, The St Martin’s Frontline Network also set up to support frontline staff, and the Be the Change Network, have been able to work together to connect and empower the frontline in the north east. Similar exciting and ground-breaking partnership work is on-going in Cornwall; linking members, The St. Martin’s Frontline network and Homeless Link’s approach to building communities of practice together.

These emerging partnerships are invaluable in bringing people together who shape the whole experience for themselves, from agreeing themes, agenda, venue and the approach of each meeting, and who really care about how to shape the future of the service offer for the people they support.

London agencies are exploring what it is to be outreach workers in challenging and tough environments, as part of their positive experience of meeting in a community of practice. Themes across the UK for future sessions include complex needs, workforce development, system change and reflective practice. Others are keen to explore ideas relating to women in homelessness and PIE (psychologically informed environments), and how the impact of working differently can bring about lasting change for those we help.

Communities of practice brings together groups of people who want to learn and share knowledge of the sector. They come together with a common interest, and the desire to widen their understanding of how good practice can enhance the services on offer.