Harnessing Data to Combat Homelessness


​​Established in 1977, Single Homeless Project (SHP) is a London-wide charity dedicated to working with individuals who are experiencing homelessness. The organization focuses on providing support and accommodation, promoting well-being, and advocating for change among single Londoners. Striving to address the unique needs of the London homeless community, SHP empowers individuals by giving them the tools and space to recover and sustain living independently.   

​When the project began, SHP was grappling with low data quality, which significantly hindered various functions and limited its reach. North Highland, one of its key charity partners, stepped in to help SHP achieve higher quality data and implement processes designed to address its data-related challenges. These efforts resulted in increased funding opportunities for SHP and elevated the overall effectiveness of its programs.  

“ We had the privilege of being selected as North Highland’s UK Charity of the Year for 2023 and to work on a really important piece of work for our charity, at one of the most challenging times for people experiencing homelessness. All departments at SHP could tell from the very first scoping session that this was something that the staff at North Highland felt passionately about and were committed to making a difference. ” 

Chris Greenfield, Corporate Partnerships Manager – Business Development & Fundraising 

Client Situation

​​Single Homeless Project wanted to get a better handle on its processes for collecting and using data, so that it could better leverage those insights for showcasing the impact of its programs. To achieve this, SHP pursued four key outcomes:  

  1. Understanding existing data collection processes. SHP wanted to assess whether the entire organization was employing best practices for data collection to determine where training and education were needed.  
  2. Comprehensively interpreting data. SHP leaders wanted to move past surface-level data analysis and delve into a broader range of outcomes for its programs. The organization sought to dissect each element of its programs to better understand impacts on individuals participating in their initiatives.  
  3. Using data to highlight the difference of Single Homeless Project. Aspiring to leverage data for differentiation, SHP wanted to highlight what sets its Education, Training, Employment (ETE) work apart from other, similar programs. SHP offers ETE services to help individuals experiencing homelessness develop their confidence and gain necessary skills to find and maintain employment. The organization wanted to use data as a tool for emphasizing its unique value proposition in this area and determine how the program adds value to the wider socio-economic community of London.  
  4. Adopting and maintaining the processes implemented by North Highland. In addition to assessing its current state and realizing the outcomes, SHP set out to understand and adopt the new methodologies established by North Highland. This understanding was crucial for building lasting capability and repeating positive data processes, so SHP can maintain quality data collection and utilization long term.  

Our Approach

North Highland partnered with SHP over an eight-week period to design and execute a plan that would help it achieve these four key outcomes. North Highland adopted a detailed yet comprehensive approach to elevate the data strategy and reporting model. At a high level, this included: 

  • A focus on current state and desired future state. 
  • An emphasis on educating the organization and coaching leadership on best practices. 
  • A priority to build lasting capability, ensuring SHP would be ready to take the reins after the project had ended. 

Here’s a look at this work in a bit more detail:  

Current State & Desired Future State

North Highland initiated the work with an assessment of SHP’s current data strategy. Our team used this assessment to pinpoint existing pain points and discern future ambitions. This helped identify the work to be done and build out a plan that was specific to SHP’s needs. Following the assessment, North Highland created and deployed detailed ‘To-Be’ models to help SHP move from its current to desired state. These models encompassed data systems, collection standards, and reporting capabilities. This aspect of the work was designed to determine where SHP was, where they wanted to go, what they needed to do to get there, and how North Highland could help them along the way.   

Education & Coaching

To ensure success with any new initiative, it’s imperative to have buy-in and alignment. North Highland helped Single Homeless Project achieve this through multiple workshops focused on a new Salesforce-based tool designed to upgrade SHP’s desktop and mobile platforms.   

North Highland also provided leadership coaching on the methodologies and ways of working introduced to SHP throughout this partnership. This equipped SHP leadership with the knowledge and resources needed to upskill current and future employees on the enhanced data processes.    

“ Once we were introduced to the team, we instantly recognized the experience and organization they had. Within the first few meetings they were able to precisely sum up the complex challenges we had and propose a unique solution for our data capture and internal communication with staff. The team were a joy to work with and we always felt we were making significant progress with every workshop. ” 

Chris Greenfield, Corporate Partnerships Manager – Business Development & Fundraising 

Transitional Support  

In addition to enhancing data-related processes, we partnered with SHP to create a detailed business change approach, ensuring a seamless transition. This included a communications strategy and training designed to ensure that SHP effectively adopted new processes with minimal disruptions to the organization. North Highland also worked alongside core business functions to support the effective handover and implementation of design plans.   

Value Delivered

The partnership between Single Homeless Project and North Highland yielded tangible and impactful results, playing a pivotal role in the success of SHP’s programs. Here are four ways this partnership has left a lasting impact:  

Enhancing Alignment: By implementing the new data strategy outlined above, there is now greater coordination, integration, and collaboration across Single Homeless Project’s support programs.  

Expanding Funding Opportunities: The collection of new reports has created valuable opportunities for funding applications. These reports serve as a compelling tool, allowing SHP to vividly demonstrate the socio-economic impacts of its work.   

Removing Data Barriers: By upgrading and promoting the mobile app version of SHP’s data system, we helped them eliminate several barriers in data collection when working with clients.  

“ The work that has been completed will help transform the way we capture data and ensure we have the correct information to help our clients back into independence and communicate the impact of our work to funders so that we can scale up our vital programs. I wholeheartedly recommend North Highland to any business seeking expert guidance to complex data problems. ” 

Chris Greenfield, Corporate Partnerships Manager – Business Development & Fundraising 

Streamlining User-Access: The comprehensive training content has empowered SHP staff, facilitating quick support access, expediting the onboarding process for new team members, and enhancing the overall utilization of the mobile app.  

While this partnership resulted in numerous wins for SHP, its defining victory lies in the successful adoption of enhanced data processes, ensuring a sustained positive impact on the London community.