Activate award winner Amy Varle: combating homelessness through national networks

"It is my hope that by driving a community of action forward, we can make meaningful and lasting impact together - and hopefully, positively alter the outcome for those who may face homelessness in the future" - Amy Varle, Fellow

The problem

In Britain today over 320,000 people are homeless and this number is steadily rising. Some 597 people died while destitute in 2017. Many services exist for the homeless, but they usually lack resources of all kinds - especially funding. In this situation of increasing need and decreasing support, one way ahead is to explore collaborative working between different services.

The Activate award

Homelessness campaigner Amy Varle (CF 2016) has been given a grant from the Activate Fund to set up a ‘mastermind group’ of cross-sector practitioners, who can come together and deliver best practice models for reducing homelessness across the country.

Amy’s aim is for each of the major UK cities to have a flagship centre for homelessness resolution, accessible 24 hours a day to any person experiencing homelessness. Each would focus on the specific needs of the local area and community, linking into best practice from local providers, as well as being part of a more extensive network of expertise, guidance, education and support, and encompassing a global tech gathering of practitioners.

Once the lockdown permits, Amy aims to support a minimum of 15 organisations to participate in the project. She will develop this through networking events, workshops and mastermind sessions, each focus on best practice techniques for homelessness resolution. She will collect data on best practice, review existing services, and develop a technology-based assistance toolkit for services, providing up-to-date practical advice and support.

The award recipient

Amy is a housing consultant and homelessness campaigner who experienced homelessness herself as a teenager. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2016 to investigate pioneering strategies in the USA for homelessness prevention and response. As a result of her Fellowship, she became an advocate for the Housing First model, a scheme which gives people who are chronically homeless a home without any conditions.

She has been hugely instrumental in implementing the model in the UK and in 2017 was tasked with leading the creation of a flagship centre for homeless people in Manchester. These plans have been expanded and she is now working with her network to create a number of these centres across the country.

The Activate Fund

Amy’s award is a grant from the Activate Fund. This is a new programme from WCMT which supports the activation or acceleration of Churchill Fellows’ projects. It provides dedicated funds, advice and support during the key period when Fellows first return from their research overseas, and start to make change happen in the UK.

The Activate Fund is a three-year pilot project, making its first grants in 2020. The Activate grants total £101,000, making an average grant of £14,400. The scheme has been developed in consultation with Fellows, to respond to their practical needs.

View Amy Varle's profile 

Fellows wishing to apply can find out more in the Fellows’ area of our website.

Amy’s Fellowship was in partnership with the National Housing Federation.

Find out more about the Activate Fund

Read Amy's report