News: Data rights and people facing homelessness – improving trust and empowerment

Data rights and people facing homelessness – improving trust and empowerment

Data protection on the frontline of a homelessness charity can be challenging, not only due to the complex regulatory environment but also due to the nature of the work. When faced with urgent need for support, information rights may fall down the list of priorities. According to our research however, our clients care about data privacy and rightly expect us to treat the information they give us with utmost care. They want to know what we do with it.

The way we communicate and respect information rights has the potential to empower people and build more trusting relationships. But how do we do it with limited time and resources? How do we make it fit with our existing processes? How do we make sure it enhances, rather than takes away, from the support we provide? We have worked closely with people experiencing homelessness to explore the answers to these questions and produced our report Data rights inclusions for people experiencing homelessness.

The paper is a result of a co-produced research project conducted by The Connection at St Martin’s and funded by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as part of their Grants Programme. In it we share:
• Feedback on the attitudes and understanding of data protection amongst people who interact with our services and frontline practitioners; and
• Practical ideas for making transparency more meaningful, exploring issues of consent, data sharing and sensitivity.

We show how we discovered and overcame the pitfalls of illustrating easy read versions of documents. We also share the tools we used to run focus groups and interviews with people who interact with our services, as we believe that having similar conversations in your own service can make it more tailored and contribute to more equal relationships within it.

We hope that our paper will help organisations like ours improve their processes to increase transparency, as well as improve the knowledge of information rights amongst people we support.

You can find the full paper here – www.connection-at-stmartins.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Data-rights-and-people-facing-homelessness.pdf