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In our latest spotlight on the work of Homeless Link’s Partnership Managers, Rose Smith who covers the South West of England reflects on the importance of ongoing learning and reflection as part of the role.

As a Partnership Manager, I strongly advocate ongoing learning, reflection and self-care to the people and organisations I work with, whether that be through sending and signposting to resources or offering an independent and supportive critical friend-space to members and partners so they can unpick issues in a way that helps them most. The ultimate aim of Partnership Managers at Homeless Link is to bring people together through local partnership so that homelessness can be addressed in the most connected and collaborative way possible. In much the same way that services are only as good as the staff within them, the same is true for partnerships.

Strengthening local partnerships

One of my recent focuses has been on the Partnerships Self-Assessment Toolkit Pilot, developed by the Consultancy and the Partnerships Team here at Homeless Link. I’ve worked with two areas in the South-West on this pilot, which is all about reflection. The self-assessment toolkit provides a framework by which local partnerships can assess themselves, enabling them to identify their strengths and the gaps. The assessment is used to inform an action plan to strengthen local partnership working at both strategic and operational levels.

Ending homelessness requires collaboration across the homelessness sector and with strong and reflective partnership working, we are far more likely to succeed in providing powerful services that have the ability to effectively respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

The importance of ongoing learning

September 2023 marked one year in my post as the South West Partnership Manager at Homeless Link. In my career before Homeless Link, I’d always wanted the time and headspace to invest in learning and my personal development. So, when I then had that space in my new role, it took some time to adjust and recognise that learning is also part of the job, that it should be a priority, and not just an add-on if there is time.

It should go without saying that our wellbeing should be at the forefront of our minds, and the minds of those with management responsibilities. If we take time to learn, we have the opportunity to change and improve services. At a roundtable event with people with lived experience at the beginning of the year, many participants echoed that for them, the quality, experience and care of staff was what mattered most about provision.

If we look after ourselves, we can continue to care for and support the people using those services.

Supporting local partnerships

Ending homelessness requires many people to work together across the voluntary sector, local government, health services and private sector. Homeless Link have pioneered and continue to support local partnerships across England to improve collaboration.

Find out more