Five reasons to apply for an all-expenses paid trip to the United States

Wednesday, 7 December 2016 - 1:46pm

This winter sees us opening applications for the third year of the Oak Foundation funded Transatlantic Practice Exchange. Read on for information about why and how you should apply.

Street in Washington DC

People who have heard of this project often joke that it sounds like a two week 'jolly' across the Atlantic. But those who have undertaken the Exchange will vouch that, in reality, it’s about so much more than funded time away. With that in mind, here are the top five reasons why you should apply:

1. Learn about an area of good practice to help you, your colleagues and the people you support.

Every Exchange participant comes away with a new perspective, fresh ideas and invaluable information. Take a look at our proposed programme topics or choose to explore something else relevant to your role and the challenges you face.

‘I have discussed my learning with colleagues and have already incorporated this into the training I was delivering prior to my trip.’ - Arthur, 2016 participant

2. Visit homelessness services in another country - an undeniably eye-opening experience.

Understanding how services operate in a different context, provides the opportunity to reflect on your own work and our own systems here in the UK. Participants gain a better understanding of wider policy at home and abroad.

Some of the most difficult things to learn have been the differences between healthcare, social care and education provision. There are some basic levels of health and social care that we take for granted in the UK that do not exist in the US.’ - James, 2016 participant

I can see Wintercomfort’s service delivery more clearly in light of my Exchange, including how important the long term, problem-solving, flexible nature of the service is, as well as how it fits in with other services.’ Heather, 2016 participant

3. Have an opportunity for personal and professional development.

Our Exchange is aimed at staff who don’t usually get a chance to take part in this kind of project. It's not only about improving knowledge and practice, but also providing participants with the opportunity to develop new skills that they may not acquire in a frontline role.

Yes I returned with lots of ideas that I want to implement within the services that I oversee – but in addition it took me out of my comfort zone, challenged many of my own preconceived ideas and forced me to ask questions of my own practice.’ Jonny, 2016 participant

4.  Learn about services in your own country and join a network of like-minded people.

Taking part in this unique project allows you to get to know other frontline staff from across the UK who have shared, or are sharing this experience. We bring participants together to network and discuss learning from their trips.

‘There have been some very useful opportunities to share ideas and reflect with the other UK participants... I found the communication between us before and after our trips, to be an excellent aspect of the exchange.’ 2014 participant

5. Contribute to developing and sharing innovative ideas to help us end homelessness here in England.

Previous Exchanges have provided us with a wealth of information and ideas to help us achieve our mission of ending homelessness. Participants have developed our understanding of other approaches (e.g. Housing First and Trauma Informed Care) and helped us to develop good practice across the country.

‘On a national scale, the UK could take inspiration from the LA approach….We could benefit from developing a culture where there is an expectation of joint working and where services are commissioned in a way to make this straightforward.’ Steph, 2016 participant

The deadline for applications is 9am on 19 December so, if this blog has inspired you, find out how to apply here.  

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Jo Prestidge

Innovation and good practice project manager

Jo is an innovation and good practice project manager, leading a range of projects and training including Housing First England and Trauma Informed Care.