Hacking Homelessness

On Tuesday, we hosted a collaborative workshop with colleagues from Cotswold District Council, the Centre for Homelessness Impact and Bromford customer representatives in order to look at ways in which we can make life easier for those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, in all its forms.

Homelessness currently stands at an alarming level in the UK, but despite the millions of pounds invested each year to address it, the issue persists. Through the Bromford Strategy 2019-2023 we have made a commitment to improve social justice and play our own part in reducing homelessness in the Cotswolds and three other areas. Because homelessness is such a ‘wicked problem’, we know that we can’t do this alone. We therefore want to work in partnership with other organisations across Gloucestershire in order to maximise our impact and investment in this area. 


We hosted this initial hackathon in order to bring stakeholders together to spend the day sharing our collective knowledge, diving into the facts, figures and human stories which surround homelessness and to explore ways in which together we might ultimately contribute towards the centre’s vision of ensuring that any experience of homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurrent.


Rising housing costs, low wages and reduced benefits can all put pressure on people over time. In his opening presentation John Wade explained that this pressure can build up like water behind a dam. An unexpected life event such as losing your job, health issues or relationship breakdown can put extra pressure on the dam and sometimes this pressure can be enough to cause the dam to be breached, pushing someone into homelessness.


We started the day therefore with two possible areas of focus:


  • Reduce the water pressure - Building more homes, designing better policy and strengthening the welfare system;

  • Strengthen the dam - Developing protective factors such as community connections and support networks.


Throughout the day, three teams used customer stories, data and insights informed by our Strategic Insight colleagues, the Centre for Homelessness Impact Toolkits and also discovery activity such as our recent Twitter chat and inspiration session to help identify some of the root causes of homelessness, define the problem they wanted to focus on, develop some ideas on how to solve that problem and start to turn those ideas into high level prototypes.


Our hack attendees used design tools developed by the Lab to help collate their thinking and collectively we were able to come up with some interesting concepts which we will be exploring in more detail over the coming weeks and months.


As with any hack, the real impact ultimately comes in the work that will follow when people leave the room. However, thanks to the focus, energy and enthusiasm of those people who gave up their time to join in on the day, we’ve got a great platform from which to work together and move forward from.

We’ve shared the draft outcomes with participants and as soon as we’ve had feedback we’ll be sharing them here too.