What is 'No First Night Out'?
No First Night Out (NFNO) is an innovative approach to preventing people from sleeping rough for the first time. It is a cross-borough project run jointly by the City of London and Tower Hamlets local authorities. The lead authority for the project is the City of London Corporation.
The NFNO team provides upstream rough sleeping interventions through a group of community-based referral partners, and a unique pan-London network of private rented sector and specialist accommodation providers.
Our work with individuals identified as being at risk of rough sleeping for the first time covers all aspects of a person's life. The NFNO team works within the strengths-based model, adopting motivational interview techniques to encourage clients to feel empowered and committed to the process.
NFNO takes a collaborative approach to an individual's move on and uses resources available through our partner organisations to quickly put clients on the road to resolving any potential barriers to sustainable accommodation, including: existing debt or benefits issues, physical and mental ill health, tenancy and employment, training and education skills gaps.
Strong partnerships are central to the success of the project. NFNO has a diverse Partnership Group, united by a Memorandum of Understanding which contains the core commitments from partners and their in-kind contributions to the project. Strong relationships between a variety of statutory, voluntary and support services, all focussed on improving homelessness response for local people, are the key to NFNO’s success.
A research-based project
Back in 2015, the No First Night Out project wanted to take an evidence-based approach to designing a new approach to preventing rough sleeping.
At the heart of the initial research project were interviews with 34 new rough sleepers: people who had been found sleeping rough for the first time by street outreach teams.
What did the interviews with clients bring to the development of NFNO?
- The interviews meant that the project was shaped on the self-reported experiences and views of people who had recently found themselves rough sleeping. Their lived experience was at the heart of developing the new service.
- They brought new insight to challenge and refine our understanding of data – for example, being asked to leave family and friends can be the final trigger for rough sleeping, but actually earlier contributing factors tell us about critical points when an intervention to prevent rough sleeping could have been made (e.g. the series of rent increases before someone ended up being evicted and then staying with their friends).
- They provide evidence to kickstart the process of identifying at-risk groups and where they may be located, and therefore targeting resources and foreseeing challenges in service delivery. A local picture of how people interact with their environment, statutory services and advice and voluntary sector services helps to shape the work of prevention staff. This then develops over time as the project gains its own evidence through practice.
- The model/typology developed to describe new rough sleepers helped to communicate to a wide range of partners the different at-risk groups that the project was trying to identify, encouraging staff in services to consider, for example, social networks and resilience.
Evaluation reports about the NFNO project can be found on the Reports & Briefings page.
How NFNO works