Making the difference, five years at a time

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 - 12:00am

CEO Rick Henderson introduces our new five year strategy.

If necessity is the mother of all invention, it’s time to be more inventive than ever.

That’s why I am pleased to launch Making the Difference, our new five year strategy, which sets out our ambitions and redoubles our efforts to end homelessness in England.

Five years back

Our previous strategy ran from 2010 to 2015 – a particularly volatile and unpredictable time for the homelessness sector, with cuts to funding and pressure on services including a significant increase in demand.  Yet despite these pressures and challenges we still have a strong homelessness sector whose interventions are resulting in significantly improved outcomes and a sector that continues to innovate.

Throughout this period Homeless Link continued to focus on the long term. We reiterated our goal to end homelessness and rough sleeping. We stuck more than ever to the principle that our tactics today are what will enable us to continue the fight tomorrow. We gathered evidence and intelligence from the front line. We worked with you, our members, local authorities and government departments to find new solutions and achieve positive change.

A few examples

In 2010 we were campaigning hard for political commitment to bring an end to rough sleeping. Our work, with our members, kept rough sleeping on the political agenda, feeding directly into the Government’s 2011 strategy Vision to end rough sleeping: No Second Night Out nationwide. When it came to putting that strategy into action, we administered £20 million of Homelessness Transition Fund grants – funding 115 projects to support 66,323 people over three years – and we launched StreetLink, the phone line and app which, in 2014 alone, enabled members of the public to connect 5,172 people sleeping rough with local support services.

We have campaigned continually around reforms to benefits and the impact they are having on people who are homeless. In particular, our highlighting the issue of the disproportionate number of people in homelessness services having their benefits sanctioned has led to national policy change and improvements in local practice.

Our events and training reached 4,300 professionals ensuring they benefited from expert views and advice on the latest issues in the homelessness sector and our client relationship system In-form is now used by over 7,000 professionals across England to record the work they do with people experiencing homelessness, and to measure and improve their outcomes.

Our work with the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition, including development of the MEAM approach, has started to transform the way people experiencing multiple needs are supported. There is now recognition from central Government of the needs of this group.

Five years on

In the years of austerity ahead, the nature of public services is likely to be redefined, and the way they are delivered will be transformed. Alongside this will be an ongoing broader debate about the role of the state.

This won’t just be about saving money. Society will change radically over the next 15 years, with an older, more diverse and more aspirational population.  

Part of our preparation for this new world has to be renegotiating the role of public and voluntary services and the recognition of the key role of the homelessness sector in working with those facing the most extreme exclusions and inequalities

Making the difference

Since 2010 we have developed a unique and dynamic approach to making positive change on homelessness. We gather evidence from the ground on the challenges facing homeless people and services, use this to influence local strategy, translate that to influence national policy, then researching the impact of that change and feeding these findings back to local and national Government.

That’s how we’ve made a difference over the past five years. It’s how we plan to continue. Making the Difference seeks to be ambitious for people who find themselves homeless. Our goals, over the next five years, therefore, relate to preventing homelessness before it starts and providing both responsive and long term, sustainable solutions should it occur. Our strategy sets out the following six priorities designed to achieve an end to homelessness:

  1. Advocate an early intervention approach to preventing and ending homelessness.
  2. Ensure that every local area has a personalised, rapid response for people who find themselves sleeping rough.
  3. Champion flexible, good quality services that support people to end their homelessness
  4. Promote sustainable housing and employment as the most effective route out of homelessness.
  5. Enable services to thrive and be sustainable in the new public service environment
  6. Create structures and operating processes that ensure we have the right people in the right place to deliver our vision, mission and strategy.

For our full five year strategy, download Making the Difference below. For more on our vision to end homelessness in England, click here.

If you have any reflections on our new strategy, or ideas to add to it, please don’t hesitate to talk to me.

Making the Difference: the strategic plan to end homelessness 2015-2020

This strategy covers a five year period from 2015-2020. It brings together our vision and beliefs; our mission, values and behaviours; and it describes the actions that we will take.


The question is not whether homelessness can end. It is what action we can take to make it happen.

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Rick Henderson

Rick Henderson

Chief executive

Rick is the CEO of Homeless Link and was appointed to that role in July 2012. He is a member of the government’s National Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel and the London Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Task Group. 

Twitter: @rickviews