Virtual focus groups help to develop homelessness strategy |  Two virtual focus groups have been delivered to help the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead refresh its Homelessness Strategy.

The virtual sessions were held on Monday 18 May – one brought together over 50 individuals and organisations including local charities, Thames Valley Police, the Clinical Commissioning Group and others who help to provide services to the homeless and those in need of housing assistance, and the other was open to councillors.

The digital focus groups were introduced by Councillor Ross McWilliams, cabinet member for housing, communications and youth engagement and were supported by Tracy Hendren, head of housing and her service leads from the department.

Councillor Ross McWilliams, says: “It was great that even during the current coronavirus crisis, we were able to get a lot of people onto a digital platform so they could hear what the council has achieved since the original strategy was approved back in 2018.

“There has been a huge change in our approach to providing housing support. The service has seen huge improvements and we now have strong foundations upon which to build an ambitious, innovative and industry-leading service that puts residents at the heart of what we do.

“A key part of the strategy is supporting our rough sleepers to get into long-term solutions. We want to create a borough where nobody needs to sleep rough and to provide swift support and reassurances to those that feel they have no other choice. 

“Our work is underpinned by the core values of compassion, thoroughness and cooperation. These are the values we measure ourselves against and what we believe residents expect from a modern housing service.

“Today’s event was an opportunity for us to thank our partners for the critical work they are doing to support our vulnerable residents, help people avoid homelessness and keep people safe during these difficult times.” 


The strategy was originally adopted in November 2018 and the refresh will ensure that the strategy takes into account the most up-to-date data and reflects the present working arrangements with our key partner organisations.

The Homelessness Strategy has underpinned the delivery of the council’s Rough Sleeper Pathway, which has helped tackle long-term rough sleepers, customer service improvements, expansion of support for homeless residents and improving relationships with partner organisations. 

During the sessions, the housing team presented the core priorities within the strategy and the progress made in delivering on them. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to the team of officers.  

A stakeholder survey will be shared with all invitees, along with the presentation from the meeting and a recording of the meeting, to ensure that partner organisations have the opportunity to provide detailed feedback on the presentation and the existing Homelessness Strategy.

 The Homelessness Strategy is set to go to Cabinet at the end of June 2020.