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Connections week description

A Connections Week connects the knowledge and commitment of those working in homelessness organisations, those sleeping on the streets and the wider local community.

Local campaign teams ensure that every individual on the street is spoken to, listened to, interviewed and asked to share their full story of their journey on to the streets and their situation now. You can read more about this in these blogs:

This information is crucial to make sure support services truly reflect the needs, hopes and demands of homeless people. Most cities have used a survey called the ‘VI-SPDAT’, which stands for Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Pre-screen Tool.  It helps identify who should be recommended for each housing and support intervention, moving the discussion from simply who is eligible for a service intervention to who is eligible and in greatest need. This is especially important for some homeless people, such as young people, women, and those with disabilities.  It contains set questions, which each Campaign city can add to if they wish.

Data volunteers input the information collected so that the results are available quickly and build on the momentum that the Connections Week has created.  You’ll need to analyse and write up your interim findings and prepare recommendations for next steps. The sooner you can share the results of the Connections Week, the quicker you can build momentum to take the next steps. Connections Weeks can take a lot of energy and time to organise, so it’s important that you plan for communications, updates and sharing of evidence afterwards.

At the end of your Connections Week we recommend you organise a Community Debrief. This is an event to which you invite all your key targets – volunteers, homeless people and campaign working group members – to report back on your findings from the street survey. You may be able to secure commitments from targets that can be announced at the event, and you can use the event as a launch pad for the next stage of the campaign.

Prior to the debrief event, you will need to analyse and write up your findings from the survey – most likely in a preliminary format – prepare your recommendations for next steps and do the advocacy necessary to guarantee any announcements.

Read more in blog by Chas Walker in Brighton.

A Connections Week provides important in-depth data and helps create a sense of urgency amongst decision makers, influencers, and the media. It also brings local people into the campaign and helps break down barriers between people living on the street and people who are not. This video from Barcelona describes why Connections Weeks (or sometimes referred to as Registry Weeks) are important. You can see footage from Torbay in this video.

Plan follow up activities:  What you do after the Connections Week depends on the specific needs of the street homeless people in your area. Your plan is likely to include actions to help people into housing more quickly.  A key outcome is often what is known as a ‘By Name List‘ (BNL). This list is the first and critical component for cities that want to create a co-ordinated assessment and housing placement system (CAHP).  By knowing the names and unique needs of every homeless person on its streets, cities and communities can begin to take steps toward moving people into housing – something anonymous street counts can’t achieve. Leicester Campaign Lead Mark Grant talks about their post-Connections Week steps.