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Negotiated Stopping Conference – thoughts and hopes

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  March 7, 2016 |

We have had just over a week now to take stock of the conference Leeds GATE held last week about managing unauthorised encampments.  This is obviously a massive issue for us, particularly the opportunity to explain, promote and hopefully export the model of Negotiated Stopping we have developed here in Leeds.  Firstly thanks again to everyone; whether they be colleague, speaker or delegate, for making it such a successful event. 


The first thing which struck me as so positive was the depth and breadth of attendees and speakers.   We had delegates from across the country, representing, Local Authorities, police and other agencies.  Their very presence suggested an interest at finding new and better ways at managing unauthorised encampments.  Clearly many have concluded that cycles of eviction, so often the policy applied, is not perhaps helpful for anyone and that alternatives must be actively considered.   


The range of speakers was also very powerful.  It reassured both ourselves, and hopefully others, that it is not just in Leeds where new solutions are possible.  Similarly, we can be confident that it is not just the community who are demanding, or benefit from, Negotiated Stopping or similar policies on hearing such positive stories from police, council officers and lawyers.  When everyone, even across those with notably varying aims, sees value in something, it probably has merit.   


The other important positive point was the quality and tone of the parallel sessions.  In these we were able to get into the detail of what in practice might work in particular areas.  The questions asked and solutions proposed, not just by Leeds GATE, suggested that most understood what options were available to them.  Equally important, delegates appeared suitably motivated to try and pursue some of these.   


So what now?  For me the key is maintaining momentum.  Many delegates appeared to go away energised and enthused about how they might put some of these ideas into practice.  We must of course be realistic.  As was reinforced by many on the day, those attending stressed that they did not need convincing.  However, we have hopefully provided tools, of evidence and examples, to help attendees go home and persuade bosses, colleagues or partner services for changes in approach. 


We at GATE see last week’s conference as just one day in an ongoing discussion.  We hope delegates and speakers will continue to talk with us, and each other, over the coming months.  Please keep asking questions and swapping good ideas.  As we found out during the conference, lots of authorities and services are already doing innovative things in respect to unauthorised encampments so it is vital this best practice is shared as widely and often as possible. 


Hopefully in another year’s time there will be positive stories to tell, or at the very least lessons learnt, across the country.  In the meantime please do let us know how things progress where you are and thanks again to all who helped make it such a great conference.

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