Active inclusion is a concept that challenges existing approaches to social policy concerned with addressing one need with one type of intervention. The elaboration of the concept to date, however, has remained mainly at broad levels of policy frameworks. Its implications for implementing bodies are far-reaching, but seemingly absent from the debate. In this think piece, we draw attention to the frontline, where street level officers and service users interact, using services for young people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness as a test case. In our discussion, we draw on findings of an action research project involving the cities of Newcastle and Hamburg. Initiatives were undertaken to find new methods by which agencies could work together to enhance the quality of services and be more sensitive to the specific situation of service users. Overall, the project demonstrated benefits of applying the active inclusion concept to conceptualizing and delivering personalized services, but it also pointed to difficulties of finding systems that could effectively meet the needs of homeless people and of identifying new methods of co-operation. Agencies involved in such strategies are typically heavily influenced by statutory or other key duties and more traditional methods of working. However, despite such difficulties, the active inclusion approach can inspire new ways of cooperation across organizational and professional boundaries, moving services closer to the specific circumstances of the people they are concerned with.
|European Journal of Homelessness
|Published - Dec 2013