Coventry Frontline Network
Posted by Natalie Pearson 05/12/19
The St Martin’s Frontline Network supports workers from the public, statutory and voluntary sectors working on the frontline with those experiencing homelessness. The Frontline Network aims to build relationships, share best practice, develop solutions, and communicate the experience and views of frontline workers.
Coventry Frontline Network
Coventry Citizens Advice has been a partner of the Frontline Network since 2017.
In our first two years, we have seen the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the roll-out of Universal Credit in Coventry, and the creation of Coventry City Council’s new Housing & Homelessness strategy. We host a quarterly forum for frontline workers to meet and discuss these important topics, providing a space to hear their voices and allowing those voices to be heard by decision makers. We regularly welcome attendees from the local authority and the DWP, providing a strong link for input into local services.
We’re keen to amplify voices from the frontline, by collating your views into responses to local and national consultations. We’ve held sessions to discuss Section 21 “no fault” evictions and the national call for evidence about the Homelessness Reduction Act, as well as considering changes to Coventry City Council’s “Homefinder” (social housing allocations) scheme.
Coventry and Beyond
Following the extension of the project until 2022, we’re looking forward to expanding our remit into the wider Midlands area, to ensure people working on the frontline can access the information and support that the national network has to offer. We are aiming to create a “network of networks” in the West Midlands Combined Authority and beyond.
Nationally: @SMITF_frontline #FrontlineNetwork
To see if there is a local frontline network in your area, click here.
Frontline workers who register with the national network – for free! – can access a range of support:
- Frontline Network annual conference (free to attend)
- Free and low-cost events aimed at the frontline
- Funding for training (up to £500 individual/£1000 for groups)
- Funding to shadow other services around the country (up to £500)
- Funding to host events (up to £500)
- Funding to develop innovative ideas (up to £10,000)
- Wellbeing resources
- Discussion forum with other frontline workers
The Frontline Network runs an annual survey to hear from those on the frontline about how they feel the homelessness sector is changing. The 2018 report is available online, and the results from this year’s survey are currently being analysed, with findings to be shared in the new year.
The network is keen to be a link between the frontline and decision makers. The Frontline Network recently collected frontline input about proposals to remove Section 21 evictions, and fed your contributions into the national government consultation, amplifying the view from the frontline about this significant change.
Since 2017, the Frontline Network has been working with Partner organisations across the UK. These Partners have helped to build the Frontline Network’s work at a local level, by facilitating their Network activities and regularly bringing together frontline workers. Find your nearest Partner here.
Partners hold regular meetings so that frontline workers can network and share their experiences and expertise, as well as explore solutions to key issues affecting staff and people they are supporting.
Vicar’s Relief Fund
The Vicar’s Relief Fund (VRF) is a national fund that can help clients to access or keep a tenancy, making grants of up to £350 to prevent or alleviate homelessness. After the VRF went digital in 2014, the St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity realised just how many frontline workers were accessing it and the range of roles that were represented by those supporting people experiencing homelessness. The Charity saw this as an opportunity to do more, and in 2016 it decided to set up the Frontline Network. Please note that this fund is presently oversubscribed.
by Zoë Titchener, Frontline Network Co-ordinator, Coventry Citizens Advice