13 people from groups across Walsall and wider attended our first meeting to explore the benefits of groups tackling homelessness in the borough working together. 

We are working with Homeless Link, a national charity, and locally with YMCA Black Country. One of the Homeless Link staff members explained to the group that a ‘Community of Practice’ is: 

* For pulling together ideas and good practice with the aim of creating change.

* For sharing knowledge.

* Solutions focused - asking ‘what can we do together?’

* Changing our knowledge and skills.

* A safe venue to listen and receive feedback, tips etc.

* For learning about what hasn’t worked.

* Learning from other area and national work.

* For innovation and trying out small changes.

* Led by the group - what do groups feel main issues and problems.

Examples of good practice included:

* In Birmingham, the COP is upskilling groups and doing welfare rights

* In Stoke - exploring how the Care Act relates to homelessness.

* In Wolverhampton- focusing on Women’s homelessness.

Comments from the group on the idea of a Community of Practice included:

* “It gives us strength in numbers”.

* “It helps us to coordinate and prevent duplication”.

* “If the council could see voluntary groups working together, the council would start to listen more.”

* “Ensuring everyone can get food and support”

We look forward to future meetings and more groups joining.