There is something dispiriting about the news coverage of all the wonderful work being done for homeless people over Christmas.

The newspapers do their best to generate hope from the generosity of their readers, the hard work of charities, or the new legislation on homelessness reduction. The adverts are getting better. They focus not just on putting a roof over a head and food in a stomach but creating a sense of inclusion and respect. How a nice haircut can help restore a sense of self esteem. How a shelter over Christmas gives time for health care professionals to work on addiction or mental health issues.

But still the sense that we have been here before and are working against a rising tide of homelessness occupies the thoughts of many professionals.

So it is good to start the year with news of something genuinely new and innovative and which could make a real difference. The London Councils ( 11 of the 32 boroughs so far) are combining their purchasing and management power into a not-for-profit organisation under the Capital Letters programme with a £37.8 million project which could manage housing for up to 35,000 families facing homelessness.

This project has the potential to fight back against the rising price of temporary accommodation and the playing off of one council against another for limited space by hard-nosed landlords. It could keep more people closer to their “home” and local support networks.

How much of it will be available for rough sleepers, or people with complex needs is not yet clear, but anything that reduces the slippery slope to the streets is to be welcomed. Hopefully some of it will provide the “housing first” desperately needed to help reduce rough sleeping.

As always these issues will be discussed in detail at the Pathways from Homelessness National Conference this March.

This year Jeremy Swain, Director for Homelessness at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be providing us with the latest government thinking on homelessness.

We will hear from international experts in Homeless Health including Jon Sparks, Chief Executive of Crisis; Dr Amanda Stafford, Clinical Lead, RPH Homeless Team, Royal Perth Hospital, Australia; Professor Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and Dr Josephine Ensign, Professor of Nursing at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA and Author of “Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net”.

If you would like to join us and like minded colleagues working in Homeless Health at this year’s event you can now register your delegate place here, we hope to see you there.

Neil Stewart
Editorial Director, City View