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This Year’s Finalists: City of Edinburgh Council

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In the run-up to the GO Awards Scotland, taking place on 29th October at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, we’ll be profiling some of our finalists to celebrate the diversity and strength of the entries to this year’s Awards.

Here, we hear from Neil Fraser, Senior Category Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, about their entry for the Market Development Award, detailing the work of the Council’s Shared Housing Services.

  • Can you summarise the aims and scope of the project and how it took shape?

The subject of homelessness in Edinburgh is a key priority for the Council and this project is part of a suite of initiatives to help tackle the problem. The use of Bed and Breakfast accommodation for temporary accommodation is being replaced by more suitable forms of accommodation that provide more facilities and promote independence. It was important that in order to improve outcomes there was a thorough understanding of what service users would find useful in any new service.

  • What were some of the major challenges involved in the project, and how were these overcome?

Many of the service users are vulnerable and may have complex needs or be reluctant to engage. To get meaningful co-production a strategy was developed to gather the information in multiple formats and channels. To implement this strategy, the project team, made up from officers from Commercial and Procurement Services (CPS) and the service area:

> engaged with all existing providers via workshops;
> developed questionnaires for both providers and service users;
> visited service users and took them through the proposed new service in a way that they would understand and not find intimidating;
>found out what problems existed with the current service;
> and engaged with other agencies in the service users support network.

This strategy was very resource intensive. However, given the strategic importance of the service to the Council the work was prioritised.

  • What motivated you to enter this project for a GO Award – and why this category?

Although CPS has been involved in co-production and service re-design on a significant number of projects, this was the first time CPS was involved in face-to-face service user engagement. We used the information that engagement revealed to actively work with other agencies, such as the NHS Harm Reduction Team. This collaboration brought significant improvement to the service that would not have been realised otherwise.

  • What would winning a GO Award mean to you?

An endorsement that procurement professionals can bring not only commercial benefits, but also that they can improve services that deliver better outcomes for people and their communities.