2017 Transatlantic Practice Exchange Application


Other | November 21, 2016

Files: Download the Application Instructions (PDF)

Applications are now open for the Transatlantic Practice Exchange, offered by the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Homeless Link in the United Kingdom, funded by the Oak Foundation. The Exchange aims to develop future leaders in the homelessness sector and establish transatlantic best practice connections. Placements will take place in 2017.

Five participants from the US will be selected, based on a competitive application process, to spend up to two weeks with a homelessness assistance organization in the UK. In addition, five participants from the UK will be selected to come to the US.

Participants will explore a practice area of interest with a host organization and other organizations in the locality. Following the placement, participants will prepare a written report outlining their observations and share the information with their colleagues in the US. You can find the 2016 report here.

A link to the application is on the bottom of the page. Please read through the instructions and qualifying information before applying.


Candidates should be:

  • Working in homelessness assistance programs (For-profit companies are not eligible)
  • Mid-level professional staff
  • Motivated, well-organized, and reliable
  • Committed to personal development
  • Able to travel to the UK and spend 1 to 2 weeks on placement
  • Able to support expenses over and above those funded by the project 
  • Supported by their supervisor and organization
  • Committed to writing a summary of observations made while on placement
  • Have clear ideas about how they will share learning through written materials, networking, and events

In the application, candidates will be asked to:

  • Identify a practice area on which they plan to focus while in the UK.  (Homeless Link has prepared a suggested list below, but candidates are encouraged to propose a different focus). 
  • Identify a hypothesis they wish to explore and questions they hope to answer during their placement
  • Identify a host organization, or indicate that assistance from Homeless Link is desired to identify a host organization
  • Explain how the exchange will lead to improved practice
  • Present a plan as to how they anticipate sharing what they have learned

Exchanges will take place in 2017; exact dates will be subject to the availability of host organizations in consultation with successful candidates.

  1. Propose a topic of your choosing
    We welcome and encourage proposals based on applicants’ own research and areas of interest. Past exchange participants have successfully proposed original topics. Please include details at least one potential host that you have been in touch with during your research.
  2. Involving and employing people with lived experience
    There is an increasing focus in the UK on co-production: ensuring that experts by experience have a meaningful role in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services, and that their voice is integral to work on systems change across the sector. In addition, a number of providers have developed programs that employ and train people with lived experience of homelessness to start careers as support workers, peer mentors, and peer researchers.

    Research questions could include:
    - How do homeless services effectively support people with lived experience to start a career in the voluntary sector?
    - What are the challenges and opportunities of recruiting formerly homeless people?
    - How have some organisations achieved a high percentage of employees with lived experience of homelessness, and how replicable is their approach?
    - What are the principles of co-production and how does it different from traditional forms of client involvement?
    - What impact have experts by experience had on individual providers and on the homelessness sector in England?
    - What are the views of experts by experience on current/emerging approaches to homelessness response and prevention?
  3. Approaches to accessing the private rented sector (PRS)
    Social (public) housing in the UK is in decreasing supply, especially in London and the south east of England. Homelessness services need to access properties in the PRS in order to move people on and prevent accommodation projects from silting up. Extensive good practice work has been done in this area, in terms of access to properties and relationships with landlords, as well as looking at how best to support tenants in the PRS.

    Research questions could include:
    - What strategies have services developed in order to build relationships with PRS landlords, both before and after the tenant moves in?
    - How have services ensured a smooth transition from transitional housing into the PRS?
    - What support is available to reduce the risk of repeat homelessness?
    - What strategies have been developed to encourage and support landlords to offer properties far below market rent levels?
    - What support do different groups of tenants require to succeed in the PRS e.g. young people, sharers, tenants whose children want to visit?
    - What strategies have been developed to encourage and support PRS landlords to offer properties at Local Housing Allowance levels, when they are often so far below market rent levels?
  4. Assertive outreach models
    Street outreach teams commissioned by local government often use assertive models. The basis of this approach is that unsheltered homelessness is a high risk situation and, therefore, the priority is to move people off the streets quickly in order to reduce the risks of harm. Assertive outreach typically leads with a supportive approach, but may work alongside enforcement agencies. Approaches include persistent contact, testing both client-led and directive approaches, multi-agency working (e.g. Mental Health Team alongside outreach), single service offers, and work with enforcement agencies such as Police and Immigration.

    Research questions could include:
    - What is the difference in practice between assertive outreach and traditional outreach models? How is this difference reflected in their outcomes?
    - What are the views of people with lived experience on the use of enforcement alongside support?
    - What makes for effective multi-agency working?
    - To what extent is assertive outreach effective with different cohorts e.g. long term rough sleepers vs people new to the streets?
  5. Housing First England
    Housing First and Permanent Supportive Housing are not yet a common model of housing and support in England. Homeless Link has recently launched the principles for Housing First England and is seeking to extend the provision of Housing First as a model that can be adapted successfully, and cost effectively, for use in England. The project has created a movement of stakeholders, drawing on learning from the US, Canada, and Europe. It aims to increase the number of Housing First projects across the country, as well developing an evidence base, evaluating outcomes and sharing good practice.

    Research questions could include:
    - What are the similarities and differences between Housing First support in England and the US?
    - What are the challenges in sourcing housing for Housing First in the UK and how are they overcome?
    - How has the development of Housing First England differed from the US?
    - How has Housing First England used policy transfer from overseas to create a movement?
  6. Youth homelessness
    There are separate services in England for youth homelessness (typically for those under 25), and most under the age of 18 come under the care of local authority Social Services, with some 16 to 17 year olds entering homeless services. While it is still uncommon for children and young adults to sleep rough in England, youth homelessness is increasing (in particular “hidden homelessness” e.g. couch surfing), and children leaving local authority care are particularly vulnerable.

    The Positive Pathway framework helps local authorities to develop youth-specific services that focus on mediation, training and employment to try and divert young people so that they do not go on to access adult homelessness services.

    Research questions could include:
    - How do English services seek to prevent homelessness for children and young people during high risk transition points e.g. leaving Local Authority care?
    - What support is in place to achieve family reconnection and access to training and employment for young people?
    - How do English youth and adult homelessness services differ?

December 18, 2016 - Applications due
February 5, 2017 - Candidates contacted to become Participants
February/March - Participants’ Exchange Plans and travel arrangements finalized
April–May - Exchanges take place
May–June - Reports drafted, edited and finalized.
July–onward - Candidates disseminate learning and develop guidance for the sector and possible action plans


To complete the application, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017Exchange