Doing More Together: Bringing Real Change for Folk Across the City

The City Ambition Network or CAN was formed two years ago by the Marie Trust, Glasgow City Mission and ourselves. We had a simple belief that by working together we could work better and service users would be the beneficiaries of that.

Helping the most vulnerable

We share a common vision, that no one in Glasgow should ever need to sleep rough and behind that is a desire to put people at the heart of our services. That means constantly finding new ways of working with people who really struggle to accept the help that is on offer and  just can’t meet the expectations of services in Glasgow. Once we came together it wasn’t long before the Health and Social Care Partnership – Glasgow City Council, and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde – jumped on board opening  new doors to resources, systems and networks that were critical to offer the right kind of help for these extremely vulnerable people.

Getting Practical

With some seed funding from the Robertson Trust we were able to employ a Coordinator to translate our lofty visions into something infinitely more realistic and practical. From there we began a process of identifying those people who were known to services, where we were most often simply reacting to their chaos and crisis, not resolving it.

Real solutions, not just responding to crisis

Many of the people we were talking about circulated between prison, hospital, rough sleeping and emergency accommodation, and had been doing so for years. Staff and services were spending huge amounts of time and resources reacting to this chaos but it inevitably would be back. This was not a solutions focussed approach; this was crisis management.

Working as a team to stick by people

From a cohort of 70 , 12 people were prioritised. The approach was simple: we’d stick with people no matter what, we’d work as a team – from different organisations – to support each other and find solutions, we’d build and use networks to connect people with the resources they needed and we’d provide enough staff to have the right intensity of response that each individual person needed. The interagency operational team are given support and authority from our organisations to find solutions, push the boundaries and do things that work for people.

Good things

It has been fantastic to see the compassion, determination and resolve of the CAN Key Workers. Importantly, service users have a really strong sense of being cared about in ways they haven’t experienced for a long time. No service, professional or resource boundaries get in the way of making things happen for someone.

The impact has been stunning, both for service users and staff involved in the team. Some of the people supported have tested the resolve of staff and true to their ambition they have stuck with them, pretty much no matter what. There remains a level of chaos but on engagement, health status, accommodation, incidents and risks the measures for the people themselves have significantly improved. Critically a drastic reduction in the nights they slept rough!

The future

For us this is still early days. The people supported by CAN have many many years of homelessness, substance misuse and trauma. For some it may take as many years again to enable them to find real hope and to see and experience a safe, secure and happy life.

CAN continues to evolve. Its shape and function is driven by the wide, diverse and complex needs of the people with whom we’re engaging.

More funding: Helping more folk

In 2017 we’re taking the CAN up a gear with more staff being dedicated to the approach.   A three year grant from Oak Foundation means we can expand and evidence the work of the team. By the end of 2017 we’re hoping to be supporting 50 service users and applying a Housing First approach to the team.

The vision and ambition remain the same but our journey is unpredictable, eventful and exciting.

For more information on the organisations delivering the CAN visit: