5 October, 2017
Transatlantic Practice Exchange 2017
Photo by Juliana Kozoski from Unsplash
Transatlantic Practice Exchange is an innovative exchange placement programme between the United Kingdom and the United States which facilitates learning around how to deal with homelessness. The success of this project is a result of collaboration between Homeless Link and the national US non-governmental organisation equivalent – the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Ten people working on the frontline of homelessness take part in a two-week placement to learn about the differences in homelessness services practices between the two countries and to develop future leaders. “The idea is not to bring home lessons to replicate,” says Mark McPherson, director of strategy, partnership and innovation at Homeless Link, “but rather to take a fresh view on how to overcome barriers, think differently and focus on solutions.”
This year’s participants were exposed to a wide range of different topics and inspirations. These included the US approach of Critical Time Intervention for supporting people through transitions into the community; Housing First for women; and strengths-based approaches. Participants also explored: support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender homeless youth; social enterprise; and how homelessness charities can build better relationships with private sector landlords.
Jonny Goldsmith from a UK-based homelessness charity took part in the 2016 Exchange. “My time in the US taught me that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” he said, “services should adapt to fit the context they are in and the needs of those they serve.” For Goldsmith the Exchange offered him the chance to find out more about homelessness in the US and 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. It was without doubt the greatest experience of my working life and one that I cannot recommend enough.”