No Homelessness in Norfolk – People powered results (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council)

Putting people with lived experience at the heart of homelessness strategy.

At a glance

Housing Advisers Programme case study

2020/21 cohort 

What went in

Priority area addressed: Listening to homeless people’s experience of services to inform our work 

Budget: £20,000

Other resource needed (for example staff time and expertise, partners involved, venues, and so on): Project Manager involved to join the dots and engage partners 

Time taken to achieve outcomes: April to July 2021 (three months).

What came out

Deliverables: tangible evidence of people’s experience of services to inform strategic priorities across Norfolk; system change engagement at a leadership level; a report showing the results of the work; and a conference to show-case the results.

Difference made/ indication of success: Experts by Experience contributed to and attended the conference to present the results of this work to partners. Collaboration between Experts by Experience, partners and stakeholders. Norfolk Homelessness Charter agreed. 

Statistics: We had 141 responses to the survey and 88 people attended the conference.

"I was particularly impressed and inspired by the degree to which you included the voice of lived experience and the voices of such talented creatives to set the tone of the conference".

Anthony Pickup, Homeless


Executive summary

£20,000 was awarded to Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Council, bidding on behalf of the eight Norfolk local authorities, to support the No Homelessness in Norfolk project.

The Norfolk Strategic Housing Partnership, comprising eight local authorities, plus the NHS, the police, the probation service, the Department for Work and Pensions, housing providers and the voluntary sector was established following the multi-agency response to the ‘Everyone-In’ initiative to protect rough sleepers from Covid-19 by bringing them into accommodation and offering support. A No Homelessness in Norfolk Plan, which was supported by the Norfolk chief executives, was approved in June 2020.

The funding was used to engage consultancy support from Nesta’s People Powered Results Team. The Team supported the working groups and helped design and develop a listening exercise via a survey hosted by one of our voluntary sector partners, involving people with lived experience in influencing and designing homeless pathways and services. 

This culminated with the presentation of insights from the work to a Homelessness Conference in July 2021, attended by partners and people with experience of homelessness.  

A final report was produced capturing Nesta’s work which has informed and brought co-production to the heart of the new, long-term Norfolk Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2021-25.

Challenge and context

In response to the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic Dame Louise Casey wrote to all Local Authorities across England requesting that anyone who was street homeless or currently living in dormitory style emergency housing was to be accommodated within 24 hours, to minimise the risk of them contracting Covid-19. This has subsequently been known as ‘Everybody In’. A Norfolk partnership of all district authorities, Health, Public Health, Registered Housing Providers, the police and the County Council supported over 600 homeless people into safe accommodation under this strategy.

Following this, we developed a system wide ambition and resolution not to return to pre Covid-19 levels of homelessness and rough sleeping and a determination to work on an inclusive housing recovery plan coupled with a long-term strategic aim of ‘No homelessness in Norfolk’. We felt this was a real opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact on the lives of people across Norfolk, to increase their health and wellbeing and their life chances.

Evidence tells us that the health of people experiencing homelessness is significantly worse than the general population, and the cost of homelessness experienced by single people to the NHS and social care is considerable. The last conservative estimate (2010) of the healthcare cost associated with this population was £86M per year with a total system cost of over £1billion across England and Wales.

The task now is to build on the approach in safely accommodating rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation to make a lasting change to significantly reduce homelessness and rough sleeping in Norfolk.

What we did

The support commissioned from Nesta’s People Powered Results Team focused on three key areas:  

  • Engaging experts: people who have experienced homelessness and practitioners in front-facing roles, to better understand their experiences, explore their relationship with co-production and consider how to support them to be meaningfully involved going forward 

  • Adaptive support for working group leads to mobilise their groups, gather and consolidate insights, consider actionable learnings, and prioritise prototypes emerging from their efforts 

  • Capacity Building for Transformation: A focus on ‘creating the conditions for systemic change’ to support collaborative and inclusive change at pace across Norfolk

The difference we made

A wealth of insights emerged from the wide-ranging perspectives we heard through the listening exercise. We made sure that people who are or have been homeless had their voice heard when considering how homelessness could be reduced in Norfolk. We learnt about what could be done differently and what could be changed in terms of the following: 

  • access to services 

  • collaboration between partners 

  • listening to the voice of experts 

  • pro-active support 

  • people’s experience of our services 

  • person-centred support

What’s next?

The insights are informing the strategic priorities for the new Norfolk Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2021-25, which is currently being prepared. The priorities are as follows: 

  • reduce homelessness by focusing on homeless prevention services 

  • improve access to homelessness support services across Norfolk 

  • introduce person-centred services with a focus on co-production 

  • develop partnership working to improve collaboration and whole system working. 

The insights also informed the development of the Norfolk Homelessness Charter. Other next steps are to bring the charter to life, develop an action plan, take forward recommendations from working groups and the conference, continue to deepen relationships and to create an environment of test and learn.  

Lessons learned

We learnt that:  

  • engagement and co-production takes a lot of time to do properly 

  • we need to be very aware of the language we use when talking to people to ensure we don’t slip into using ‘jargon’ 

  • people do want to be involved with developing services and that those working in front facing services can contribute significantly too 

  • it is challenging working across a large geographical area like Norfolk and we were mindful to ensure we secured responses across the whole area 

  • bringing people with lived experience of homelessness to both contribute to and attend a conference can be an enriching experience for all concerned and brings to life some of the barriers they face  

  • we are too quick to label people and send them down a route that might not be appropriate for them by not listening to them effectively  

  • Our systems are complex, and people find it hard to navigate multiple complex pathways during a crisis. Someone said in response to people being labelled as having complex needs "our systems are complex – people are people"

  • we should be more aware of how procedure driven our systems can be 

  • It is important that the right structures are in place to make co-production happen and to understand and create effective structures to deliver change. This is an area that we identified as needing more attention in future.


Lisa Oakley, Project Manager, No Homelessness in Norfolk 

Further information