Of Programs & Partnerships: Lessons from Newcastle

This is the second of my late blog posts from my final week in the UK. Last weekend I recapped my time in Whitley Bay on Wednesday. Today, I’m recapping my final day in the North East before I headed back to London for my final day.

On Thursday, I was able to tour a few different sites in the North East with the illustrious and ever fabulous likes of Steve McKinlay (North East Area Director), Martin Houghton-Brown (Depaul UK CEO), and Abigail Westgate (Business Support and the glue that holds it all together).

First up, we visited Simonside House. This site has 13 bedrooms with shared bathrooms, kitchen, and communal areas. While here, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with one of the project workers and hear about her experience, lessons, and challenges. Lately, there has been an alarming increase in legal highs, which is sadly similar to the huge increases in K2 and PCP use that we’re seeing in Philly.

Next up, we visited South Tyneside Homeless Consortium. This partnership is aimed at providing and efficient and effective service for young people in the borough. It is a partnership between Depaul UK, South Tyneside Churches KEY Project, and Places for People.

The aim of the Consortium is to:

  • Provide better services to the young people whose needs it serves,
  • Build a stronger and more effective support network within South Tyneside,
  • Develop the capacity and experience of each of its partners,
  • Give commissioners user-led, value-for-money services that embrace diversity and improvement and meet priorities, and
  • Work in partnership with agencies, service users, stakeholders and commissioners to develop services, increase choice and identify and address unmet needs.

We visited the new office space for the Consortium and spoke with staff there and then spent some time in the accommodation space down the road. This space houses 5 supported accommodation flats with shared kitchen and communal areas. This space is gorgeous and looks and feels incredibly peaceful. They have an outstanding view of the ocean (see picture below)–what a restorative space and testament to how the Consortium values each person.

The South Tyneside Homeless Consortium was a great example of why coordinated services worked. It was also showcased how the Positive Pathways framework can be extremely effective in supporting a seamless continuum of services – especially between local authorities and charities. Here are a few takeaways/highlights of the discussion:

  • Shared space and co-locating staff and services between partner organizations.
  • Regular and ongoing communication, especially around care coordination meetings. Everyone should be on the same page about young adults within the Pathway, even if they are not directly working with them at the moment.
  • Sharing successes and highlighting accomplishments. Highlight accomplishments of the young adults. Highlight accomplishments of each partner.

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