Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Do front line homelessness workers need vocational qualifications?

Engage to Change has been developed by Homeless Link, Broadway and CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) and is a qualification for people working in homelessness services. The course includes topics such as Professional Practice Skills, Client Involvement, Homeless Services and Prevention, Addressing Need, Building Capacity and Promoting Choice. See the link below for more information about the course. 
All homelessness front line workers should have CRB checks (Criminal record bureau), but do they need formal recognition and professional standards? Most outreach workers bring with them their own experiences (personal or employment) and knowledge to the job and find that the skills required are vast ranging. Does this course build on their already broad skills base or is it a professional label?
Will it assist workers in their job, and help to reduce homelessness by creating more effect working?

We would particularly love to hear from anyone that has done or is doing the course.


  1. Speaking on behalf of Porchlight, which was the first centre in the country to be accredited to deliver the qualification, we do see a value in professionalising the sector. It not only means that we will be taken more seriously by statutory services but also enables us to further improve the quality of our services to clients.

    We recognise that qualifications are not the only way to improve services but they are a major step. It’s important to note that a survey conducted by Homeless Link (Survey of Needs and Provision, 2009) showed that just 27% of frontline homeless workers felt that the existing qualifications met their needs, and 89% wanted to see an industry standard for the sector.

  2. Thanks, Mark for adding your comment. I am really interested in this and hope that it will set a good standard. Several years ago there was talk about something like this, as many in-house training covers only aspects of the work, while outside formal courses have little relevance and usually rely on specialising in a particular area, substance use, housing law or social work.

    The National Health Care for Homeless Council in Nashville have put together a specific course which also looks really interesting http://www.nhchc.org/Curriculum/curriculum.htm

  3. It should be noted !! that Homeless links SNAP report,define "single homeless" as Single homeless people,and couples without dependant children...so from observation it would appear in Homeless sector working with homeless people,not only do indivdual workers need training,but organisations as a whole need training as to what they are talking about when advocating on behalf of homeless people,by this meaning "Solitary homeless people" single homeless people..or as defined by Homeless Link..
    Is it not about time! all organisations on behalf
    of homeless people start to read from the same page,its not exactly setting a good example,when homeless organisations in media talk about "Chaotic"lifestyles led by homeless people,about time they looked in there own backyard
    And while doing so remember the people sleeping rough on the streets tonight,who have a partner,and are "EXCLUDED" from services provided...
    regards Bob in carlise