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Are you on CHAIN? - a response

May 21 2009
Broadway wants to reassure readers that the homeless information system results in positive change for homeless people Dear Editor, Broadway is very proud to manage the CHAIN system (News, The Pavement, 28) on behalf of rough sleepers and others who lead a street lifestyle in London. Following the article in the last edition of The Pavement, I want to ensure that readers are aware of the benefits of the system and the great care with which data is collected and used. First and foremost, I want to tell readers about how CHAIN, an information system, results in positive change for homeless people On a street level, CHAIN enables workers to record information about those they work with. This helps to ensure a co-ordinated, proactive approach to contacting people on the street and making sure that they access the right type of accommodation as quickly as possible, if that's appropriate. Because outreach workers share information on CHAIN, it helps to avoid people being asked the same questions again and again. It can mean that people on CHAIN quickly get the kind of help they need when they get in touch with a new worker for example if they move areas/ sleeping spots. At a decision-making level, CHAIN tells the government and Local Authorities about rough sleeping. It doesn't cover every kind of homelessness (for example, sofa surfing), but it gives a better indication of the scale of the problem than other methods such as street counts. CHAIN provides evidence required to ensure that decision-makers invest in services for homeless people and know what people need. So often we hear that a lack of joint working and agencies failing to co-ordinate, results in a confusing and fragmented service for those who need help. CHAIN is remarkable in the fact that lots of homelessness agencies really 'join up' by inputting onto the same system to ensure the best service possible for individuals and for homeless people in London. There is still more work to be done to ensure the right help reaches people quickly and effectively through consistently high-quality services, and I hope that information from CHAIN will be integral to improvements to homelessness services. Finally, I want to stress to readers that details of anyone who refuses consent are not stored on the system. There are a small minority of people who are yet to give consent for the information stored - workers ask at an appropriate point in their relationship with a client. I'm really pleased to report that very few people do refuse consent. I believe this is largely because workers and clients have faith that all the information collection undertaken is genuinely done to reduce homelessness and help those on the capital's streets. Becky Rice Research and Information Manager, Broadway