In order to deliver quality services that support people to move away from homelessness, staff need to be able to deliver their skills. Traditionally, there has not been a clear development route for the homelessness sector. However this is now being addressed.
Training and qualification are clearly central to the goals of ending rough sleeping and homelessness. Staff in the homelessness sector undertake an enormous variety of work, from housing management to specialist support. It can be difficult for organisations to know what the most appropriate training is for their teams.
Short courses are often the main way that agencies induct and train their employees. Workers are also accessing a plethora of accredited training which includes National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), City and Guilds (IE the Certificate in Supporting the Development Needs of Vulnerable people) and a range of other housing, counselling or healthcare qualifications.
However whilst there is a large range of accredited training available, only 43% of respondents to a 2009 survey by Homeless Link said that it was standard practice for their workers to take part in accredited training. More crucially, just 27% felt that the existing qualifications on offer met their needs and 89% wanted to see an industry standard for the sector. Promoting learning and skills within an organisation is not always easy, but it’s a vital one for bringing about change.
In No One Left Out: Communities ending rough sleeping, the Government outlined its commitment to supporting the professionalisation of the sector. This means supporting the individuals working with homeless people to secure better outcomes and make the changes needed to maintain a life away from the streets.
Leading Places of Change is the qualification for the homelessness sector's next generation of leaders. This programme helps people to apply the Places of Change approach in their own project. In the last two years the programme has worked with managers from grant receiving organisations. The results have been impressive with 120 people already having completed the programme and from 2009 it is open to any homelessness organisation.
Funded by Communities and Local Government, Homeless Link has worked with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Broadway to launch Engage To Change – the qualification for frontline workers in the homelessness sector. This framework will support learners to develop their professional practice skills, explore the context in which they operate and support and engage their clients. Learners can achieve a Level 3 qualification and organisations can either become CIH accredited centres to deliver it inhouse or find a partner who is delivering the course. Find out more about Engage to Change here or contact Lisa Reed at Homeless Link.
Homeless Pages gives details of the main national and regional organisations providing training courses on homelessness. Training providers often provide online training booking facilities on their websites. Some of the larger organisations are also able to provide tailored courses to organisations at their own venues.