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CONNECT THE MAGAZINE OF THE HOMELESSNESS SECTOR

ROUTES INSIDE

WHERE NEXT? YOUR WORDS

ROUTES INSIDE

WELFARE AWARE

This summer, we asked for your help to refresh the vision to end homelessness. Here’s what you said.

A 16 page special on some of the sector’s achievements on rough sleeping this year.

With another wave of Welfare Reform on the horizon, we look at what’s coming next - and how to prepare.

8-10 ISSN 2046-2921

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012, ISSUE 47 | WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK


0300 500 0914

StreetLink is a telephone line and website available across England which enables members of the public to alert local authorities about people sleeping rough in their area. It offers the public a means to act when they see someone sleeping rough and is the first step someone can take to ensure people living on the streets are connected to the local services and support available to them.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Members of the public can simply call 0300 500 0914 or log on to www.streetlink.org.uk. The details reported will be sent to the local authority, so they can help connect the person to local services and support. The person reporting the problem will receive details of the action the local authority normally takes when they are told someone is sleeping rough. StreetLink will also contact the council within 10 working days to find out what has happened as a result of the alert and, if requested, provide the person who made the report with an update. Your local authority should already have received details on the process of receiving and acting on referrals. If you work for a local authority homelessness team and need more information, please get in touch with Lucy Stickney lucy.stickney@homelesslink.org.uk

WHY HAS IT BEEN SET UP?

Evidence suggests that some individuals sleeping rough may not be known to local services while not all rough sleepers are aware that advice and services are available to them. StreetLink aims to help address this by providing the first step the public can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them. StreetLink is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government as part of their commitment to end rough sleeping in England.

WILL IT REPLACE OTHER SERVICES?

No. In areas of England, where local telephone lines already exist, StreetLink will tell these services if someone in their area contacts them. In other areas, StreetLink will give the public a way to act when they are concerned about someone sleeping rough.


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

WELCOME

IN CONNECT 47 4

UPFRONT

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FREE ONLINE EVENTS

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NAC SPOTLIGHT

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WHERE NEXT FOR HOMELESSNESS?

Opening words from Rick Henderson, CEO.

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Sign up for new events, catch up on past ones.

under 25s.

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National Advisory Council update from Jon Cox.

A snapshot of what you told us in our summer

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PREPARE, ACT, PUBLICISE, SHARE As local authorities debate their Supporting People budgets, we urge you to take action to make sure homelessness isn’t overlooked.

INCOMING! Hard hat and trenchcoats at the ready - it’s time

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TELLING TALES Charities are often criticised for the way they

Reform, and what you can do to prepare your

portray the people they help. We look at two

service and clients for it.

alternatives to ‘poverty porn’ that have helped people tell their own stories.

AUTUMN ONLINE Liz Zacharias of SHP writes about their latest project to help make sure the people they

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support have the online skills they need. ASSESS ME, CAPABLY Kate Grace gives a very personal account of her

ROUTES INSIDE A 16 page focus on rough sleeping - including profiles of regional No Second Night Out projects

SUPER STRONG CALL TO ACTION Mike Nicholas of Thames Reach urges services to keep campaigning on Super Strength alcohol.

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experience of the Work Capability Assessment.

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New Forest Nightstop is the only provision for explains what it does and the impact it has.

to focus on the advancing forces of Welfare

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THE NIGHTSTOP TRINITY homeless people in the area. Its sole employee

provision.

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Our latest findings on youth homelessness - and a petition from Centrepoint on Housing Benefit for

consultation on the future of homelessness

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YOUNG & HOMELESS

ART IN THE COMMUNITY Laura McCullagh writes about two projects that put creativity at the heart of the community.

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MANAGING PEOPLE In her regular column, Helen Giles looks at the pros and cons of a career in homelessness.

and views from across England.

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WHAT’S ON? ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE? HTF Director Samantha Rennie asks: what could

RESOURCES

your service do with £25,000 to help prepare for the future?

www.homeless.org.uk/connect

NEXT IN CONNECT: In CONNECT 48, the first edition of 2013, we take a long hard look at the impact of Welfare Reform on you and the people you work with. Story to share? Get in touch - editor@homelesslink.org.uk SUBSCRIPTIONS: to subscribe or take out additional subscriptions, please email connect@homelesslink.org.uk EDITOR: Martin Reed COVER IMAGES: by Georgina Cranston, from Where From? Where Now? (see page39)

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UPFRONT

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

UPFRONT Having joined Homeless Link in

have faced cuts to the services you provide. But the vision

July, my first few months in post

hasn’t failed. Despite the recession, you have managed

have flown by. It’s great to be

to ensure that help for rough sleepers continues to be in

part of a sector that is so full of

place and that available support is more effective than

energy and passion.

ever.

I’ve been able to visit member

The fact that over 30 communities have adopted the

organisations across England

No Second Night Out standard bears testament to this

and have been impressed

fact. In places such London, although rough sleeping has

by the scale and diversity of approaches in tackling

increased, more people are getting helped more quickly

homelessness and rough sleeping.

than ever before.

BY THE END OF 2012

Your success in continuing to help people despite the

The post-Olympic honeymoon period is a good time to

cuts and increased demand for help shows what is

reflect on the progress we have made towards ending

possible. It might take us longer to achieve an end to

rough sleeping. In 2006, at a time when rough sleeping

rough sleeping but the ambition is every bit as relevant as

numbers were falling and the homelessness sector was

it was when we set it in 2006.

benefiting from increased government spending, there was a strong belief that if we targeted the right support at

We have a choice. We can choose to look at the

the right time we could stop people living on our streets.

worsening economic situation, the threat of more cuts, the hurdles presented by welfare reform – and decide it’s

Here we are at the end of 2012, so what’s changed?

time to focus on survival until the situation improves.

Well, driven by the recession, the number of people sleeping rough has increased across England and you

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Or we can continue to achieve, in spite of the challenges.


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

NEWS

STRONG FOUNDATIONS

we need to focus on both preventing homelessness and

Thanks to you, the sector understands better than ever

ensuring that more support and housing is available to

why people end up on the streets, and how to support

help people become independent. Rough sleeping is

them back inside. Services have and are changing to

only part of the picture.

reflect this. It is said that problems aren’t solved by throwing money The fall in the number of long-term rough sleepers in

at them. Yet by the same token we can’t be expected to

many areas is just one of the many successes you have

tackle a problem as complex as homelessness without

achieved. As is the focus on getting help to new rough

significant investment of resources. Many of the services

sleepers as quickly as possible via initiatives like Street Link

I visit are cash poor but passion rich, making the most

and No Second Night Out.

of their limited resources. But this isn’t just about money – it’s also about time, commitment, energy, creativity,

Your help with campaigning has pushed rough sleeping

and forging partnerships with other services and sectors,

and homelessness firmly up the political agenda. Many

making sure they understand that it’s their responsibility

local and national politicians, who might previously have

too.

given little thought to the complex lives of the people you support, now have to acknowledge that homelessness

And it’s also about targeting our efforts where they will

is no longer something they can step over on the way

have the greatest impact.

home from the opera. That is why, this summer, we ran ‘Where Next for And even while we see homelessness figures rise, there

Homelessness?’ a sector wide consultation, inviting

are still examples of local initiatives producing astonishing

views from you, related sectors and those who have

results. Places like Leicester, where a Rough Sleeper Task

experienced homelessness. What you told us will feed into

Force pilot successfully reduced levels of rough sleeping

our refreshed vision to end homelessness, which will be

by three quarters, in just three months. You’ll find a feature

launched early in 2013, to define Homeless Link’s priorities

on Leicester and other rough sleeping projects later in the

for the next few years. Many thanks to everyone who took

magazine.

part.

WHERE NEXT?

You can read some of the key messages later in this

If we are to truly tackle the issue of rough sleeping then

magazine, but you told us that society needs to (cont)

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NEWS

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

improve support for young people, to prevent another

streets when the cold weather ends.

generation of rough sleepers. You also stressed the need to improve access to healthcare for homeless people,

But, I’m convinced that it’s the sort of challenge that

and that we should offer more personalised solutions,

brings out the best in people, and demonstrates just how

where clients shape the support they get.

resilient this sector really is.

LAST WORDS

Season’s Greetings from everyone at Homeless Link – we

The sector traditionally rallies in winter to ensure that

look forward to working with you through the challenges

nobody has to spend time on the streets. This year,

and opportunities of 2013.

with rough sleeper numbers on the increase, it will be especially challenging to meet these needs – and to

Rick Henderson

ensure that people who do find shelter don’t return to the

Chief Executive, Homeless Link

FREE EVENTS ONLINE Our series of free webinars, sponsored by Cloud 9 (www.thecharitycloud.co.uk) is designed to keep you up to date with the latest practice and policy developments in homelessness today.

UNDERSTANDING WOMEN’S HOMELESSNESS - 17 JANUARY 2013 This webinar will: •

introduce St Mungo’s Rebuilding Shattered Lives campaign and how you can become involved in it

give an overview of the evidence and learning gathered so far

discuss the importance of the issues homeless women face

share good practice from a service that works directly with homeless women

give a brief update on what next for the campaign.

BOOK NOW: homeless.org.uk/web-women

EFFECTIVE ACTION: PLANNING PATHWAYS - 22 & 29 JANUARY 2013 These two online events will look at the use of planning pathways to set up an activity in a service and to develop a programme of activities for clients. They will help you take a structured approach to activities planning, from a strategic level through to delivery. BOOK NOW: homeless.org.uk/web-planning

MISSED AN EVENT? CATCH UP HERE... If you haven’t been able to attend one of our online events, you can catch up on our website. We’ve recently added webinars on welfare reform, giving homeless people a voice online, and the benefits of moving IT into the cloud.

homeless.org.uk/events/online

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NAC

NAC SPOTLIGHT The latest update from our National Advisory Council of members, which helps shape the work of Homeless Link - from Jon Cox, NAC Chair and Two Saints Head of Business Development. Visit homeless.org.uk/nac While threats to our sector have

on ‘Where Next for Homelessness?’ designed to feed

amassed over the past year,

into Homeless Link’s summer consultation with the

members – via the team at

homelessness sector on what Homeless Link’s priorities

Homeless Link – have enjoyed

(and those of the sector) should be going forward.

an unprecedented level of influence at governmental level.

We asked, when do people stop being homeless and

The team’s carefully developed

whether the sector sustains homelessness? How can we

relationships, alongside timely

evidence the value of the sector and what is Homeless

and targeted policy work, have

Link’s role in doing this? What are the current key issues

enabled a number of ‘wins’ for

and critical support needs in the resettlement process?

providers and clients alike. These include establishing

And we asked who are the most marginalised groups in

critical exemptions to the Shared Accommodation Rate

the ‘homeless’ community? Over the next few pages, you

(SAR) for many of our clients and influencing the decision

will find some of the key points raised in this and related

to remove eligible costs for exempt supported housing

discussions that have been happening over the summer,

from Universal Credit.

in the regions and online.

We still face a great many challenges, Welfare Reform

In an open forum session, members expressed deep

related and otherwise. We still have an opportunity to

concerns about:

use our voice to shape what happens, protecting critical services and the people who use them from potentially

the impact on clients and services of council tax

devastating consequences which decision makers may

benefit reforms which will require many to pay up to

not have considered.

30% of their bill from disposable income

The team at Homeless Link have made such robust,

the resource intensiveness, effectiveness and

effective and evidence based representations because

efficiency of the tendering, procurement and re-

members have been able to give them the hard

commissioning approach which has pervaded in

evidence they needed, often at short notice. So, as a call

recent months

to arms, I would urge you to do all you can to respond to Homeless Link’s requests for quantitative and case study information on key issues. It’s worth it.

members also highlighted the potential exclusion of the most complex and needy clients as contracts become more prescriptively outcomes driven.

In September, we welcomed Rick Henderson to his first NAC meeting. He spoke of the importance of the NAC,

In closing, I proposed an amendment to the NAC

gave an update on Homeless Link’s immediate priorities,

membership to ensure that Homeless Link’s membership

and committed to getting out into the regions to visit non

is properly represented by the right skill and knowledge

London based members over the coming months.

mix going forward. This has now been agreed. If you would like to be considered as an NAC Representative

Following a debate on the needs of homeless women,

as vacancies arise please email Emma Dore for more

and discussed the validity and availability of the arts

information: emma.dore@homeless.org.uk.

in homelessness services (homeless.org.uk/arts) , we moved to the main item of the day – a lively debate

Jon Cox, Two Saints - NAC Chair

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WHERE NEXT

FOR HOMELESSNESS? This summer, we asked for your help to refresh the steps we need to take to end homelessness. What you told us will help direct our vision and efforts over the next few years. Here is a snapshot of what you said. Homeless Link has a simple vision - an England free

With a Government comprehensive spending review and

of homelessness. Where the right help prevents

a general election on the horizon, Homeless Link wanted

homelessness before it begins, no one lives on our streets

to make the strongest possible case to policy makers and

and anyone who has been homeless is supported to take

politicians for the need to invest in working towards an

control of their futures.

end to homelessness. In order to achieve this, Homeless Link sought the homelessness sector’s views to help refresh

In 2010, we published the steps to achieving this ambition

the steps needed to end homelessness.

in our manifesto ‘Ending Homelessness Together’. However, with homeless numbers on the rise, many

Approximately 300 of you took part in ‘Where Next for

services facing funding cuts and some of the biggest

Homelessness’ – in our regional meetings, online debates,

Government reforms in a generation, we knew we

and by written responses. The 300 included homelessness

needed to take stock and to reflect on whether we

professionals, people who have experienced

should find new ways to achieve our goal of ending

homelessness, and professionals from related sectors.

homelessness. Your views have been invaluable in helping to build a How do we:

picture of some of the current priorities and concerns held by agencies and individuals.

Make sure that services are targeted at those who are most at risk and most in need?

We’ll publish a detailed report of the debate soon – but in the meantime, here are some of the major themes you

Have the most effective ways of identifying those who

talked about.

are most vulnerable to homelessness? THE FUTURE OF FUNDING •

Make preventing homelessness everyone’s business,

AND HOMELESS LINK’S ROLE IN IT

engaging health, criminal justice, social care and

Concern around funding was a major theme throughout

other professional groups in achieving the ambition?

most debates. A number of organisations feel apocryphal about the future of the sector, and that we

Ensure that individuals get the best support possible

have only just started to feel the impact of the cuts. Some

to rebuild a life away from homelessness?

believe that the sector will change out of all recognition over the coming years, with more and more agencies

Ensure that funding for homeless people is

unable to survive.

safeguarded and delivers choice and control to clients?

You told us you want Homeless Link to lead the way in articulating the value of what you do, particularly the

Make sure that the right Government policies are in

value charities bring as opposed to private companies.

place nationally and locally?

Some of you feel we could play a valuable role in taking a firm stance over the balance between minimum

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

contract prices vs. quality of support.

FEATURES

PERSONALISE, PERSONALISE, PERSONALISE A strong theme underlying all responses is the need to

A number of you raised concerns over local

provide personalised responses to people’s needs. At one

procurement and commissioning, questioning whether

client consultation event in London, attendees talked

all local authority staff carrying out commissioning

about there being too much emphasis on conforming to

and procurement have a sufficient understanding of

the rules of society and that people should not be forced

homelessness, or even commissioning skills. You remain

into anything.

concerned that quality no longer features in the commissioning process, with too many contracts driven

Every individual will have a different route to recovery

by price and a desire to achieve maximum return for

and for each it will take a different length of time, with

minimum price.

different support required. Services need to be designed around the individual rather than people being forced to

There is a consistent concern from agencies that as

fit with services. In a consultation event in London, people

competition amongst groups for decreasing funding

questioned whether the single service offer given through

increases, those individuals for whom there was no

No Second Night Out models ran counter to a desire to

statutory duty to provide support will be the most

give people choice and personalise services.

vulnerable to cuts. Attendees at the same event were enthusiastic about This is particularly heightened for some by the fact that

personalisation and choice, but there was a feeling

the term ‘homelessness’ does not sufficiently articulate

that despite the rhetoric there is not enough flexibility in

the range of services provided by agencies, although

the system to offer it, and that with cuts the flexibility is

there was a strong preference for retaining the term

diminishing further.

‘homelessness’ over multiple and complex needs

“Different types for different people.” - respondent who has None of you favoured a single funding stream for

experienced homelessness

support to homeless people, citing the dependence on Supporting People as an example of being too

THE NEED FOR A RANGE OF SERVICES

vulnerable to cuts in one area.

You told us that one size doesn’t fit all and that we need a wide range of services to suit a wide range of needs.

The sector is divided over payment by results; some feel it could offer a good opportunity. Others are

We talked about hostels – what shape should they take,

concerned about its application to homelessness. They

and what is their role, in the future of homelessness?

are concerned about who would set the measures and

While some of you feel that hostels are best for people

whose results they would be. There are also concerns that

with higher, more complex needs who require intensive

too strong a focus on payment by results would result in

support, many respondents with experience of

some in the sector ‘cherry picking’ clients.

homelessness hold deep concerns around hostels being viewed as the only answer in relation to service provision.

“I am not comfortable with the idea of payment by results, I worry that the results that are asked for won’t be the results that are best for the people we’re helping.” -

There was a common feeling that putting people with different needs together could jeopardise individuals’ recovery.

homelessness professional

There is recognition of the need to have more diverse

“Brief interventions bring brief results” - homelessness

models of support for people with different needs; for

professional

example putting people who are currently using drugs with people who are in recovery is not felt to be helpful to

“The new health commissioning structure shouldn’t just focus on diagnosing and treating the medical conditions of homeless people. It must also become a leader in creating coordinated services that work for vulnerable groups.” - health sector leader

either groups. Many respondents supported the Housing First model but it should not be the only approach and needs to be part of a suite of a range of models of available provision. Some of you told us that supported housing needs to be better understood and valued locally and nationally. WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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“Even though you’re surrounded by people it’s a lonely place. For someone coming in here that doesn’t know the system it’s an alien place, people speak a different language. You can be dragged into circles you want to get away from.” - respondent who has experienced homelessness

There should be far more emphasis on prevention by the homelessness sector, as well as by other agencies working with people before they become homeless.

You told us that ‘homelessness’ is the best term to describe the sector, rather than ‘multiple needs’.

“Larger hostels may have a place, but smaller personable units have a great advantage of being able to sit alongside communities, maintain a sense of normalisation and easier to then start to look at the underlining issues and provide intensive support.” respondent to the online debate

However, we need to better articulate the work and value of the sector to ensure the word and its implications are properly understood. •

Funding remains a challenge, and there are concerns the future for support to homeless people

THE BIG THEMES •

You told us our ambition should still be ending

remains bleak. •

You told us that homelessness should still be

homelessness – but you said we need to articulate

recognised as more than simply housing. We need

more clearly how this can be achieved. We need

to keep stressing the links with health, employment,

to identify the priority issues that will take us closer

social networks, and more.

towards achieving this goal. • •

Not enough attention is being paid to the support

We need to keep focusing on the structural, as well as

people get when they have moved into their own

individual factors, that lead to homelessness.

accommodation. It is widely recognised that people can be very vulnerable at this time, so more help

The support offered to people should be personalised

needs to be offered to build networks and manage

and responsive to individual need. We need to work

challenges. You told us this support should not be

with individuals to help them find their own solutions

time limited, as it is at present. It should be offered for

to escape homelessness.

as long as the individual needs it.

MANY THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THE DEBATE

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FEATURES

INCOMING! LIFE IN THE TRENCHES OF WELFARE REFORM Kathleen Caper highlights the next wave of big changes to hit services and clients. Alice Evans looks at what you can do to get ready.

If you’re starting to feel as though Welfare Reform is an allout assault on your service and clients, I don’t think you’re alone. Now that the smoke has cleared from the Shared Accommodation Rate changes, perhaps you’ve risked a peep over the top of your trench. You’ve seen what’s approaching. You know it’s only just begun. What’s coming represents some of the biggest changes to the benefit system since it was introduced in 1945. We don’t yet know all the detail – the precise design of

Universal Credit, for instance, will only become clear after the regulations are laid in Parliament this month – but regardless of the finer points, it’s essential to start getting ready. You need to arm yourselves and your clients with new knowledge and skills. Individuals, frontline staff, and managers, are likely to have to change their approach to supporting people and managing finances. One thing is clear. There’s no point sitting in your trench. Tin hats on. It’s time to go over the top.

READY THE WAR ROOM Planning is everything. These changes will impact many

just jam jar accounts? Talk to local bank managers and

aspects of your clients’ lives. It’s about more than just

agree processes that will get your clients the accounts

raising awareness. It’s about offering practical help to

they need. We’ve heard of several cases where this has

make sure they’re ready.

worked.

BUILD A PICTURE

DIGITAL INCLUSION

Do you know what benefits clients are claiming?

Do people using your services have access to IT – and if yes, is it private, accessible and secure? What skills do

ADAPT YOUR SUPPORT SESSIONS

they have, and do you and your colleagues have the

Financial management is going to be essential for the

skills to help them? At the very least, applications for

people you support – so you need to be sure that you

benefits will need to be made online. What additional

and your colleagues are comfortable talking about

pressure will this put on your existing IT resource? What

money and supporting your clients with it. Encourage

can you do to prepare people for online access when

people to talk about their needs as part of their journey

they move on from your accommodation? There will be

towards employment and make financial inclusion a core

other options for people who can’t use the internet to

part of the support you offer from the start t, not just a

access benefits – for instance face to face meetings and

few weeks before people move on. Clients will need to

conversations by phone – but it is critical that people who

develop skills and knowledge around budgeting, access

fall into this category don’t start doing things online and

to bank accounts and other financial products – not

then simply abandon it.

to mention the practicalities of moving into long-term accommodation without support from the Social Fund.

SPECIAL OPS Now is the time to form a welfare aware working group.

BANKING

Don’t wait until the next wave of changes in April - or

Do your clients have bank accounts – and if yes, do those

for when your area is one of the first to adopt Universal

accounts allow them to pay direct debits or are they

Credit. WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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KEEP YOUR HEAD IN NO MAN’S LAND YOUR STAFF

to develop activities, pre-employment programmes,

Do your staff know what’s coming and when? Don’t leave

and partnerships across the area. The events also led to

it to chance. You need a rolling programme of updates

partnerships between two local colleges and services,

and training: staff need to understand the current systems

leading to educational support for clients.

for the next few years, as well as the incoming system. Why? Because for a while you’re going to be supporting

‘COVER ME’

some clients who are on Universal Credit and others who

Keep your clients informed of the changes, and plan with

are still on existing benefits. Homeless Link can help you –

them, making sure they understand how important it is

with online resources, factsheets and webinars, as well as

to be completely transparent with their Jobcentre Plus

Welfare Reform training and a dedicated national event

advisor.

on 21st March 2013. Advisors do have some flexibility, depending on how far YOUR CLIENTS

the individual is from the labour market, but they can

Don’t rely on letters and posters – or anything else

only offer this flexibility if they understand who they are

that can be ignored or mislaid. Be creative in getting

talking to. For instance, there will be exceptions in place

the important messages across to your clients. Will

for people who are homeless – such as paying rent direct

door knocking work best? In Lambeth, Broadway was

to landlords – but many clients don’t necessarily identify

funded to door knock people affected by the Shared

themselves as homeless if they’re living in supported

Accommodation Rate. This direct approach was far more

accommodation.

effective than other methods. The better you know your clients, the better you’ll know which approach will be

The first meeting with the advisor will be critical – so

most successful.

accompany people, making sure you keep copies of any action plans agreed - because sanctions will follow if

WISE ALLIANCES

clients don’t stick to them.

This is a prime time to forge partnerships with your local Jobcentre Plus. In Barnsley, two events on training,

On a practical note, telling Jobcentre Plus which local

employment and meaningful activities were held, and

addresses are hostels or supported housing projects will

attended by 50 people. As a result, Jobcentre Plus is

help advisors to flag early on the additional options they

working more closely with individual services, helping

might be able to offer to people.

COMING SOON With all the noise about the introduction of Universal

vouchers and food parcels. It is unlikely that they will

Credit in 2013 it’s easy to get the impression it’s the only

include a cash loan service. We know that many people

welfare reform in town – but in a few months a wide range

rely on crisis loans and community care grants to fund

of significant changes to benefits will come into effect.

their move into independent accommodation, and

The impact of these changes will be felt most acutely by

that those with adequately equipped homes are more

people in high support projects and those about to or

likely to sustain their tenancy. Donations of furniture and

who have recently moved on.

household equipment may be available, but the end of crisis loans will cause problems in finding rent in advance

THE END OF THE SOCIAL FUND

for some people.

In April 2013, crisis loans and community care grants will cease, and the budget for this support will be handed

BENEFIT CAP

to local authorities to devise and deliver their own ‘local

April also sees the arrival of the Benefit Cap. Although the

welfare assistance’ schemes. These schemes are likely

vast majority of people affected by the cap are families

to consist of donations of furniture and other goods,

living in areas with high rents, our research estimates that

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FEATURES

MANAGE THE RATION BOOK There will be support available to agencies from the Department of Work and Pensions to help people to get ready for managing finances. Keep an eye out for this fund. We don’t yet know how it will be promoted, but it is likely to be via local financial inclusion partnerships, or Jobcentre Plus. Investigate now and get ready to start building partnerships to access this money.

YOUR SECTOR NEEDS YOU! Please share your experiences with Homeless Link. If you tell us what works and what doesn’t, we can make sure that other organisations benefit from it.

WELFARE AWARE CONFERENCE 21 MARCH 2013, LONDON With so many changes happening so quickly it can be difficult to keep on top of it all. This event - aimed at managers of services looking to prepare their service and staff, and frontline staff who are supporting clients through the changes - will provide you with detailed advice on what the changes are, when they are occurring and how you can prepare your service and your clients for these changes. We’ll look at what to do as a service to prepare for the changes, how to support your clients prepare for the changes, and how to work more closely with your local council and JobCentrePlus. And it will be a great opportunity to talk to other services with similar experiences of getting to grips with the changes.

Find out more... homeless.org.uk/event_welfare_aware

up to 10% of people living in supported accommodation

expenses. The local authority should also prioritise a DHP

could be affected. If the rent charged by your service is

where a person living in supported accommodation is

around £250 per week now, there is a strong chance that

affected by the benefit cap.

clients receiving a work related Employment and Support Allowance will exceed that cap. Initially, the deduction

However, there will be high demand for DHPs from April as

will come straight out of housing benefit.

they are being promoted as the answer to the shortfalls people experience as a result of wider welfare changes.

COUNCIL TAX Council Tax support is also being devolved to local

Now is the time to approach your local authority directly

authorities. In some local authority areas people who

to find out about their local welfare assistance scheme,

receive council tax benefit may need to pay between

and to find out whether they have considered the

10% - 30% of the bill – a cost they won’t have had to

needs of homeless people moving into independent

budget for in the past. There are serious consequences if

accommodation.

council tax is not paid, and it can easily escalate to going to court.

For ongoing updates on benefit changes, what you need to do about them, and the likely impact on homelessness

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) can be used for rent deposits, rent in advance and other housing related

services and homeless people, visit

homeless.org.uk/welfare-reform WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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COMMENT

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

AUTUMN ONLINE Liz Zacharias of SHP reports on Autumn Online, the latest chapter in a partnership project designed to ensure vulnerable people are not left behind when services go digital. Now that the government is adopting a strategy of

less access to the support and resources they need.

‘Digital by Default’ and access to public services is becoming increasingly dependent on the internet, it is

When Universal Credit is introduced nationally next

vital to find effective ways of tackling digital exclusion in

October, for example, clients will need to make

order to prevent the people we support becoming even

applications and access information through an online

more isolated.

account – whether independently, or with professional help. Job searches and recruitment processes are

With this in mind, SHP teamed up with social enterprise

already conducted primarily online. The list goes on.

On Road to ensure our clients could develop the skills and confidence required to thrive online.

CREATING ACCESS The simplest reason why the people we work with could

THE CASE FOR DIGITAL INCLUSION

get left behind if public services shift online is that they do

The Government’s Civil Service Reform Plan aims to

not have the equipment or financial resources to connect

ensure that online services will be the default position for

to the internet.

people needing Government services. While this seismic shift is designed to enable service provision to increase in

The first step in our effort to help SHP clients online was

both quality and scale, it brings with it an imperative to

therefore to provide secure access to internet-enabled

ensure that no one is left even further behind, with even

computers in as many support offices

14

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(cont on page 16)


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

FEATURES

ASSESS ME, CAPABLY The Government recently claimed that “strenuous efforts to improve the Work Capability Assessment are indeed making a difference.” But can it really take into account the complex journeys people take out of homelessness? Kate Grace, who has been supported by SHP, writes about her own experience of the WCA. Come for a work capability assessment, it said on the

he says, and not an expert in ‘these things’. He’s in a hurry

letter. Don’t be late. You must turn up. If you don’t we

to get rid of me.

could dock your ESA benefit. That’s how I ended up in a very clinical government building in Marylebone on a

I used to cope with my self-loathing at being abused,

Saturday afternoon in March.

by wearing my addict hat at a jaunty angle. When I took that off 15 months ago, the

What they don’t tell you in the

flashbacks came back like devils

letter is what to really expect.

from hell. So did the dissociation. I find myself dissociate now. I

I last worked in August 2011. I

shut up and leave my body. It

wish I could work now. I wish I

seems easier than explaining to

hadn’t been diagnosed with

the nice doctor that I’d rather

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

not be living alone in a bedsit

but I was, which means I can

because I’m incapable of being

work until something upsets me

in a relationship. I can’t be arsed

or triggers a flashback to the

to tell him that looking at my past

powerlessness of being abused

isn’t self-indulgent time-wasting.

as a small child. All bets are

I’m not opening a can of worms

off when that happens. The

for fun. I don’t tell him it’s painful

fight or flight mechanism cuts

to feel you’ve been drowning in

in and I either walk out of the

booze all your adult life. I don’t

workplace or tell someone

tell him that I’m committed, not

(usually the boss, always a

to an institution, but to getting

man) to go fuck themselves.

better.

That isn’t the best way to stay

I want to tell him I do this

in a job, and so my cycle of

‘feelings’ work because I want

losing jobs continues.

to live, not die by hurting myself because of what someone else did to me when I was too

The good news is that I’m getting better, with the help

young to understand that I wasn’t to blame.

of a psychotherapist provided by Solace Woman’s Aid, medication from my GP – and by learning new skills like:

I’ve left my body. I’m on the ceiling. I hear him say

how to shut up when I’d rather swear; saying ‘no’ nicely;

something about photocopying the report. I say goodbye

and some academic theory with Christine Sanderson

and leave the building. I know I’m in danger because I’m

at City Lit, who has helped me understand the science

only partly conscious. I buy chips, chocolate, and fags

behind the often random behaviour that stems from

for comfort. I’m disorientated and need to get away from

being sexually abused as a kid.

traffic fast. My medical ends with me getting on the first bus I see and ending up in Edgware.

Fast forward to my work capability assessment in March. The doctor checks I’m physically OK. Then he asks about

What can I say? It beats getting drunk.

my mental health. I hand him my psychiatrist’s notes. As he reads I can see he wishes he hadn’t asked. He’s a GP,

unheardholler.blogspot.com WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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FEATURES

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

and accommodation offices as possible. While

INCLUDING THE MOST EXCLUDED

computers are available in libraries and internet cafes,

Having opened up internet access and demonstrated

it takes both confidence and forward-planning to make

its democracy, we worked with On Road to find ways to

use of these, so providing free and convenient access

engage people facing multiple issues such as substance

closer to home is a must.

dependency and mental ill health.

ENABLING SELF-EXPRESSION

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, “Autumn Online” saw

The partnership began with a blog. On Road staff ran a

On Road running drop-in workshops with residents of five

series of workshops using blogging as a tool for exploring

SHP hostels, enthusing more than 30 clients to access

the internet - setting up email addresses, researching

information online, set up e-mail addresses, make short

stories, making short videos and publishing short articles.

films and write blogs.

This citizen journalism approach immediately highlighted the internet’s power to override social hierarchy,

Whether or not you can create a specific digital inclusion

demonstrating that people facing social exclusion can

programme, the single biggest step organisations

be active contributors rather than passive recipients of

can take is to ensure that staff pay attention to digital

information.

inclusion, and do what they can to encourage and support their clients to develop the skills they will require

Run by a steering group of SHP clients, the blog is

to access the services they need.

called ‘Unheard Holler’, which has been the source for national news scoops, received over 10,000 visits, and

unheardholler.blogspot.com

was nominated for the Nominet Internet Awards and

onroadmedia.org.uk

Technology 4 Good Awards last summer.

shp.org.uk

TOP STEPS FOR BUILDING DIGITAL ACTIVITIES

THAT HELP CLIENTS GROW ONLINE SET THE RIGHT TONE Create a comfortable, approachable and fun

Hopefully when he does he can just go on a computer and see this.” Peter

atmosphere in each service. It will make sure people want to take part.

GET CREATIVE As clients become comfortable with computers and

VARY THE FOCUS

online technology, they can see it more as an opportunity

Video is becoming more and more important in how

to learn new skills.

people interact online. Encourage participants to do interviews and enjoy editing short videos they have shot locally.

WORK TOGETHER

“Making this film opened my eyes to greater possibilities. A goal in my life is to synthesise music and paintings or light. This is a step in the direction of what I want to be doing.” Stephen

Encourage clients to help each other access government

USE MENTORS

websites, seek information on illnesses, pension advice,

Get more experienced clients to help mentor those who

benefits changes and local services.

are new to the internet.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

USE THE MOMENTUM

Encourage participants to complete more personal

Staff at one of our North London hostels noticed that

projects.

the workshops helped boost enthusiasm towards IT. They

“I made a video for my son and daughter. I see my two-year-old son almost every day, but I’m going to detox and rehab for six months and he’ll miss me. 16

WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

are capitalising on this by supporting clients to continue working on the goals they established in the workshops, from writing blog posts to uploading videos to YouTube.


FEATURES

CONNECT JULY 2012 | ISSUE 46

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

ROUGH SLEEPING

ROUTES

INSIDE

Mark McPherson, Homeless Link’s Director of Practice & Regions, comments on the challenges and opportunities we face in tackling rough sleeping in the current environment. For a long time, we have held the view that rough

Health reform: at a national level we have been working

sleeping should be a thing of the past. We wrote it in our

with the Health Inclusion Board and at a local level we

manifesto, we encouraged you to share the ambition,

are working with our partners to ensure that homelessness

and we worked with partner agencies to define what an

is clearly part of the new Clinical Commissioning Groups

end to rough sleeping would look like.

agendas. Localism gives us the opportunity to engage far more with local politicians and candidates - which

No one new to the streets should spend a second

can lead to incredible results, as you’ll see on page 21.

night out

Criminal justice: links between homelessness and crime

No one should live on the streets

is well known – which means there is an opportunity to

No one should return to the streets once they have

work with the new Police and Crime commissioners. This

been helped off them, and ultimately

agenda is new and we should be able to influence it.

No one should arrive on the streets. FOCUS ON PREVENTION

But it’s difficult to keep your eye on a vision like that, when

We need to start thinking more about how we can

so many ‘environmental’ factors seem to be getting in

prevent rough sleeping and homelessness, rather

the way. In a time of tightened resources and economic

than alleviate it. This year’s Ministerial Working Group

stagnation we are inevitably seeing a rise in homelessness

Paper, ‘Making every contact count’, emphasises the

and rough sleeping.

importance of preventing problems before they arise.

We know that 58% of you have experienced cuts to

It is a common sense argument but all too often it does

funding, and there are 1,587 fewer bed spaces available

not translate into common practice. For the most part we

across the sector. And as you will have seen on page 11,

know what to do, but we are inhibited by the rules that

we know the impact that changes to benefits will have.

we have made for ourselves and intimidated by custom and practice.

BUT IT HASN’T STOPPED YOU Being aware of the issues and obstacles is one thing – but

We need to change our mind set. As well as asking how

it’s clear from the work you are doing that they haven’t

we meet this need we’ve got to look at how we can

made you give up.

reduce it. We need a mindset that sees funding in these types of services as an investment in our future, in order

In this section, you’ll read opinions from across the

to avoid funds being ‘raided’ to deal with short term

homelessness sector on the challenges and possibilities

pressures.

ahead. You’ll read about seven very different No Second Night Out projects across England. You’ll read about a

An obvious starting point is to look at housing options

project that reduced rough sleeping by three quarters in

services, and the support and advice available there.

just three months. They all go to show that the vision and

But we also need to work with services in other sectors,

motivation to end rough sleeping hasn’t faded at all.

on identifying the key transition points that people go through before becoming homeless. That’s what effective

THE OPPORTUNITIES

prevention needs to look like - making sure that for every

While there are challenges in the current environment,

one of those transition points, there is also a mechanism

there are also opportunities.

that allows a person to recover, before it’s too late. WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

YOUR VIEWS We invited you to share your views on rough sleeping - on what you’ve achieved, the risks, and what must be done to avoid them. This is what you told us. Opinion to share? Write to us: editor@homelesslink.org.uk

THE SAFETY NET

HELEN HOWSON, BRIDGE HOUSING

teams, housing providers and local authorities. Partners are coming together, learning from best practice and using feedback from service users to develop better

Many people are homeless in the first place because

ways of working. Rough sleepers tell us that they hate

they have been unable to secure good quality advice,

having to repeat their story over and over again as each

information and advocacy to prevent homelessness.

agency demands they complete its assessment. Our new

While there are many good examples of effective advice

rough sleeping hubs will be places of safety offering a

services, provision is woefully under resourced resulting in

single assessment and access to accommodation.

limited access. This remains a key barrier to preventing people from becoming street homeless in the first place.

But we should not get over-enthusiastic about our new approach. We need to carefully evaluate our progress, in

The life histories of homeless people show that a large

consultation with rough sleepers and not declare victory

proportion of rough sleepers attempted to resolve their

too early. Single assessment is great but if it leads to a

housing problems before they ended up on the streets.

single service offer backed by legal enforcement we

Homeless people themselves have given examples

should proceed with the greatest of caution.

of approaches to local authorities for help and report having been fobbed off or given information which was

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we do have a housing

unhelpful.

crisis and we have damning reports of the inadequacy of mental health services. Until we can guarantee a single

Our partnership with Charnwood Borough Council

service offer for everyone, in a place of change service

provides independent information, advice and

based on the MEAM approach, let’s listen to what rough

advocacy to homeless and potentially homeless people.

sleepers have to say. They have an important message to

The service is tailored to the needs of individuals. Highly

give us and it is never wise, whatever the circumstances

focused prevention work includes working with vulnerable

to shoot, the messenger.

prisoners to ensure that people do not lose their homes while in prison. Good quality information, advice and advocacy mean that homeless people can be at the centre of making choices, securing rights and making

WHAT YOU REALLY NEED MCTAGGART, SHP

decisions. Advice helps promote the independence of homeless people and enables them to remain in control

The moon was glistening on the snow covered ground.

of their own lives.

A sharp screech sounded through the night. I thought of an owl making a kill, now silently flying away with its take

Welfare Reform and changes to housing tenure, including

away meal.

the criminalisation of certain forms of squatting, mean that vulnerable people have lots of changes to navigate

Yes, I really do have some pleasant memories of sleeping

and the need for high quality advice services to prevent

rough, like this one of being close to nature. More often

homelessness should be at the forefront of work within the

than not though, the experience isn’t pleasant.

homelessness field. You’re cold and lonely, vulnerable and isolated. Large

KEEP LISTENING

GILL BROWN, BRIGHTER FUTURES

cities can be uncaring places for the homeless. People abuse you not just verbally but physically too – laughing, pissing on you, kicking, punching and pouring beer over you, shouting “have a drink mate”. You end up soaked in

No Second Night Out (NSNO) creates a compelling case

whatever they throw at you, your sleeping bag, clothes,

for new systems of partnership working between outreach

everything soaked in piss and beer.

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

ROUGH SLEEPING

Most people just ignore you or look at you blankly, maybe

This situation will be further exacerbated by the demand

wondering why you are there or thinking: go away, you

driven cost of renting, which is set to rise, as a result of

are spoiling my night out, you are an embarrassment to

changes in government policy, and more flexibility for

me and my town. And there are a few who mean well.

local authorities to discharge their priority duties into

They stop to talk to you, maybe give you some food, a hot

the private rented sector, alongside the dark shadow

drink or some money.

of ‘universal credit’ and welfare reform, we are bracing ourselves for a significant increase in rough sleeper

But actually, where you really need help is in the transition

numbers – in spite of some of the most innovative

from homelessness into accommodation. You can’t just

coordinated front line working being delivered.

give someone a bed in a room and tell yourself your job’s done. We need to see more staff who work with

King Canute springs to mind.

homeless people and rough sleepers supporting them in the practical side of moving off the street – helping them successfully keep their accommodation, paying the rent and utility bills, becoming independent.

YOUNG PEOPLE NEED MORE UNA BARRY MBE, DEPAUL UK

But independent where? Isn’t it obvious? You redevelop

Depaul UK is committed to the ideal of prevention and

the empty houses and empty properties, whether

that no young person should sleep rough. In order to

they are council or privately owned. Rent them at an

tackle this problem, Depaul Nightstop UK has been

affordable rate to generate income for the council,

following a strategy of increasing the national coverage

and they won’t have to pay so much out for hostels or

and number of bed nights available from a network

bed and breakfast accommodation. All it takes is for

of accredited Nightstops across the country. We know

the government and local councils to have the will to

demand is increasing and that councils are decreasing

do something about it – and to be prepared to work

services in general due to the cuts being imposed.

together.

Moreover, some local authorities are slow to implement the G vs Southward ruling relating to homeless 16 and 17

HOLDING BACK THE TIDE SARAH WARD, BCHA

year olds. All young people who become homeless are at risk of sexual exploitation or abuse, and are often at their most

As an organisation working across a number of local

vulnerable when faced with homelessness.

authority areas, we see a wide variety of responses being made to changes in government policy and consider

Nightstop is a community solution to a community

there potential impact on vulnerable client groups. We

problem and encourages good willed people who have

are most concerned that the Localism Act is being used

a spare room to volunteer some time and space to help

by some local authorities as a tool to ignore the needs of

a young person. Most young people become homeless

the most vulnerable groups in their communities. In some

because of family breakdown. If Nightstop and family

cases, local allocation policies have been redesigned

mediation can become part of the pathway for homeless

to exclude people who are not seen as the ‘deserving’

young people within a local authority, it can provide

needy – particularly the rough sleeper population – by

a cost effective resolution to the problems of youth

introducing strict criteria such as the requirement to be in

homelessness.

work or education. In the words of one 19 year old: “Nightstop basically gave With no central government control, local authorities are now free to introduce radical changes to homelessness provision with little or no regard for the longer term

me a second chance ... There was somebody there to look over me. I was going to be alright, there was people to look after me and help me where I needed the help.”

community or the impact on individuals. How many people are now aware that DCLG specialist advisors can now only intervene in local provision if the authority ‘invites’ them in?

THE REAL PRICE

DAVID FORD, EXPERT PANEL

We have no doubt that this approach will not only result

I walked through a cold and wet Croydon town centre

in a large increase in numbers rough sleeping, but will

last night on my way back from visiting Ziggy, a rough

also destroy the vital and long established networks that

sleeper, who is in hospital yet again and quite seriously ill.

offer support to these vulnerable groups.

If he’s released from hospital, I worry he’ll either die on the WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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ROUGH SLEEPING

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

streets, or he’ll end up back in hospital in an even worse

of us who work so hard, with minimal resources, to support

state than he is now.

people like Ziggy. We need to recognise that we have a serious and growing problem of non-UK nationals on our

You might ask what the hospital is doing to make sure

streets – and we must start to address their needs. The

Ziggy can be suitably housed when he is discharged.

alternative is that to keep someone like Ziggy sleeping

Unfortunately, it’s a moot point, because Ziggy is a

rough we’re all paying the high financial price, and in

member of the Polish homeless community. No one is

denying him the support he needs we run the very real

interested in accepting responsibility for him – financial or

risk of damning him pay the ultimate one.

otherwise – when he leaves. I work with a lot of people like Ziggy at a drop-in centre that I manage. We meet close to 40 Central European

GENETICS OF COMMITMENT NIGEL FRANCIS, METHODIST ACTION NW

guests every week, most of them with no recourse to public funds, and either street homeless or squatting.

Rough Sleeping is not only a night time experience, it

They’re all determined to stay in England, and all the

is a life time experience. Having to bed down outside,

while their needs are becoming increasingly complex –

without shelter or protection on any given night, is not

with mental health issues, substance and alcohol abuse,

something any one should need to endure. The day

offending. They’re becoming entrenched.

arrives and to be faced with the prospect of walking to seek warmth and a little comfort, let alone help and

What I want to know is, while we are making such

advice, cannot be a way that we as a society believe is

great moves forward in tackling homelessness with

acceptable.

innovations like No Second Night Out, are we not missing the obvious? Because they have no access to funds

No Second Night Out is a commendable ambition. To

- either through no recourse or because they fail any

achieve it, sustained investment must be agreed and

habitual residency hurdles - most of the foreign nationals

carried from Parliament to Parliament. We need to

I encounter either work in the black economy for very

recognize that providing services to support for people

little, or they commit crimes to survive. Even the few who

who become homeless must be given as high a priority

are entitled to benefits often find it hard to navigate a

as providing primary health care.

system that makes every attempt to find reasons to refuse support - and they often give up trying, swelling the ranks

At present though, we are failing to provide the basic

of people on the streets.

needs of shelter, warmth and food for many people. While we understand the necessity of financial restraint

Denying real support to this group of people is expensive.

and prudent budgets, the commitment to provide the

The costs are carried by the NHS and the Criminal Justice

basics for everyone in the country must sit within our DNA.

system – and ultimately by the taxpayer. The emotional costs are carried by those

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

ROUGH SLEEPING

ROUTE 38

In 2011, Leicester’s homelessness services were becoming increasingly concerned about rising rough sleeping. Their response was a Rough Sleeping Task Force. During a three month pilot, average figures fell by more than three quarters - and none of the 38 people helped returned to the streets. We asked how they did it. In 2011, at the time of the Mayoral elections, the City of

team, they adopted a targeted, coordinated, barrier-less

Leicester had seen a steady rise in rough sleeping, with

approach to supporting people off the streets.

numbers remaining stubbornly high at 40-45 people seen sleeping out each week. The number peaked at 54, over

The results were striking. Over the three months, average

half of them Eastern European in origin.

numbers of people sleeping rough fell to around 11. The number of Eastern Europeans sleeping rough fell to zero.

Leicester’s homelessness community was concerned. Plenty of resources were being put into tackling rough

“The proposal centred on the barriers between sleeping

sleeping across the city – but the situation on the front-

rough and a hostel bed,” recalled Alastair Jackson, Chief

line seemed to be slipping backwards.

Executive of Leicester Quaker Housing Association, and Chair of the Task Force. “What was preventing people

The elections were an opportunity to get homelessness

from moving off the streets? We said that what we

firmly on the radar of local politicians. At the suggestion

needed was a direct link between outreach and hostels

of Mohammed Sabeel, Homeless Link’s regional manager

– helping people off the streets and straight into services.

for the area, a group of local agencies put forward a

And we needed a culture driven by asking ‘how can we

targeted proposal to tackle the rising rough sleeping

best help?’ not ‘do we have to help?”

issue, when the City Council launched a review of its homelessness strategy.

Alastair says the City outreach teams had a great understanding of the local rough sleeping population.

The result was a three month pilot project of Leicester’s

The key problem lay in an unnecessarily long referral

Rough Sleeping Task Force, which ran from June to

process. The Task Force set out to simplify those referrals.

September this year. The Task Force comprised of Action

The council brought new beds online, ensuring that

Homeless, Community of Grace, Leicester Quaker

people could be accommodated beyond the voluntary

Housing Association, Park Lodge, SHARP and NIEBO

sector.

Project, the only project in Leicester specialising in support for the most vulnerable people from Eastern

ROUGH SLEEPERS CASE PANEL

Europe. Working with the city council homelessness

A weekly Rough Sleepers Case Panel was the key WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

ESSENTIAL LESSONS The biggest lesson learned from the pilot was that the

and that they need time and breathing space to begin

majority of individuals who had previously been rough

to address them.

sleepers had profound problems that were too complex to be solved by the provision of housing alone.

Concerns were expressed at the outset that the Task Force might have to work with an unmanageable

Any case panel needs to meet frequently and be

number of people with no legal right to support. In

comprised of people who have the power to make

the end though, only 5 people were found to have no

decisions. Decisions also need to be made quickly, not

recourse to public funds.

passed up the chain. Because decisions were made when they needed to be made, people didn’t fall out of

Homelessness services often talk about people who are

the system due to delays.

‘difficult to engage’ or ‘hard to reach’. But if you look honestly at those cases, what you often find is that the

You can’t assess people properly while they’re on the

offer of support is too conditional. We want to engage

street. A core part of the Task Force approach was to offer

with you but… you must abstain, or you must turn up at

a bed first, then the opportunity to engage, wherever this

our office at a certain time, and so on. The challenge

might lead. When you begin that process, there are many

across services was to examine barriers to access.

people for whom it can’t be rushed. Many people helped off the streets have extreme If you try and push everyone through the system within

problems with alcohol and drugs. These issues and the

three days, you’re going to miss things. You simply won’t

resulting behaviour can present a massive challenge to

have enough information to know that you’re making the

services that are not equipped to cope. How much does

right assessment and decisions. We have to make the

the sector need to reinvent itself in places like Leicester,

assumption that the lives of people who end up sleeping

where experience of dealing with that sort of behaviour

on the streets are dealing with highly traumatic issues –

might not be readily available?

mechanism of the Task Force in tackling rough sleeping

has been cracked. There are still people sleeping out and

and ensuring that people remained off the streets.

now the pilot has finished there’s a chance that numbers

This was made up of council staff, voluntary sector

will rise again.

accommodation and support providers, and people from the health, drug and alcohol services.

Last month, Leicester City Council published a draft homelessness strategy for consultation. Have the lessons

During the 12 week period, the panel dealt with 38

of the Rough Sleeping Task Force been absorbed? It’s too

people who came off the streets. None of them were

early to say, but Task Force members are keen to see that

sleeping rough at the end of the period, staying in a

three key risks are properly addressed:

mixture of hostel accommodation, supported housing and housing association tenancies. It was inevitable

that some initial placements wouldn’t work, so the panel was structured so that when placements broke down, as

that someone stays on the street because they are deemed ineligible for a bed in a hostel;

that only a superficial assessment is made of their

happened in a handful of cases, they were able to offer

needs, leading to the provision of inappropriate

alternative accommodation quickly.

services and experiences of ‘failure’ for providers and service users; and

At the end of the pilot, none of those who moved off the

that longer-term services are too rigid and do not

streets had returned to sleeping rough – a remarkable

adapt what they offer to the circumstances and

result given that many had a long history of rough

needs of their client group.

sleeping and often profound and complex problems. They feel that only then can they hope to repeat and WHAT NEXT?

sustain the success of a pilot that has demonstrated the

No one is suggesting that the problem of rough sleeping

dramatic impact of true partnership working.

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ROUGH SLEEPING

WHAT THE PARTNERS SAY The Leicester Task Force was a partnership of Action Homeless, Community of Grace, Leicester Quaker Housing Association, NIEBO Project, Park Lodge and SHARP, working alongside the local council homelessness team.

and reduce number of rough sleepers significantly … The biggest challenges that we faced were in supporting Eastern European clients, who had multiple needs and where language was only one of the major obstacles that all agencies had to tackle.” – Izabella Dabska, Eastern European Project Worker, Neibo Project

Here’s what some of them said about the pilot.

“The work of the Task Force demonstrates that where there’s a will there’s a way to reducing rough sleeping. By working together to break down some of the bureaucratic barriers which were threatening to institutionalise aspects of rough sleeping in the city we proved that ending rough sleeping is within our grasp. The challenge for Leicester is to not let that opportunity fall through our fingers.” – Rob Parkinson, Chief Executive, Action Homeless “The achievements of the Task Force have proved that by sharing information, experiences and using potentials and resources of all agencies involved we can succeed

“Reducing rough sleeping in Leicester has been a mammoth challenge but with the support of all, our partner agencies a big step forward has been made. This has demonstrated that providing clients are willing to engage with services there should not be a need for them to spend a second night out. While this is encouraging our focus must now be on individuals that are revolving between temporary accommodation and the street. Our emphasis will also be on those that fail to engage with services. In these uncertain economic times it is important that we continue to work together to avoid rough sleeping increasing. Our motivation will always be aimed at ending rough sleeping in Leicester.” – Toni Soni, Head of Hostels, Leicester City Council

EFFECTIVE ACTION

Practical guidance to help end rough sleeping and homelessness. Developed with the support of Homeless Link’s members, this series is designed to promote and share good practice from across the homelessness sector. It emphasises the importance of homelessness prevention and the localism agenda, and promotes innovation. homeless.org.uk/effective-action

SWEP AND EXTENDED COLD WEATHER PROVISION Ensure that no one dies on the streets due to cold weather – and that people do not need to return to the streets once the cold weather period has ended. homeless.org.uk/ea-swep

ADOPTING THE NO SECOND NIGHT OUT STANDARD Supporting local authorities and their partners to meet the No Second Night Out standard by developing a service offer for people who are new to the streets. homeless.org.uk/ea-nsno

RECONNECTING ROUGH SLEEPERS The practical steps necessary for successful reconnections – including identification, assessment, the verification of information and the types of reconnection options available. homeless.org.uk/ea-recon

‘TASK & TARGETING’ - WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP TO GET RESULTS Guidance for local authorities, in partnership with other local organisations, to develop strong relationships, share appropriate information and work together to provide consistent responses to help individuals who are rough sleeping, or at risk of becoming street homeless, to access suitable accommodation and tailored support. homeless.org.uk/ea-tt WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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IN FOCUS

NO SECOND NIGHT OUT As we all know the longer someone sleeps on the

numbers in the capital, according to the latest figures

streets, the more complex their problems are likely to

80% of new rough sleepers spent just one night out. The

become.

project has now been expanded to include all outer London boroughs.

In April 2011, a pilot launched with one simple ambition that anyone who ends up on the streets should be helped

Evaluation of the approach also indicates that rough

as quickly as possible so they don’t spend a second night

sleepers helped by the service as less likely to be seen

out.

on the streets of the capital again when compared to traditional services.

No Second Night Out in London put services in place so that new rough sleepers could be quickly identified

Thanks to Government commitment and funding from

and the public could alert services if they saw someone

the Homelessness Transition Fund the concept has spread

sleeping out. They also set up an assessment centre

quickly. Over 30 communities across England are already

where the needs of rough sleepers could be assessed

working towards the idea that no one should spend a

and they could be connected with accommodation and

second night out. Moreover, in January they will be joined

support.

by another 20 areas.

Since London’s No Second Night Out went live, the

With the launch of StreetLink, we urge more communities

results have been startling. Over 40,000 calls have been

to adopt the idea of No Second Night Out so that more

made to the help-line and, despite rising rough sleeping

people get helped off the streets more quickly.

THE POWER TO DO SOMETHING KENT & MEDWAY

At the end of 2011 Porchlight was awarded £250k from the

AREA COVERED: Kent and Medway

Homeless Transition Fund to help support the nationwide No Second Night Out strategy.

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT? The service works across a large and quite rural region,

Funding enabled them to employ 6 outreach workers

making it impossible for a small team to cover enough

and an additional Helpline worker to operate what they

ground to find everyone that needs help. To combat

call their reactive service. The reactive team differs from

this Porchlight launched Don’t Just Walk Past: Tell Us, a

the core outreach team in that they provide support

campaign which encourages the public to call a 24-hour

to people who are new to the streets, rather than

helpline 0800 567 76 99 or complete a form online www.

entrenched rough sleepers. They invite the person to a

porchlight.org.uk/tellus when they see someone sleeping

safe place, such as a local day centre run by one of their

rough. They used local radio advertising and social media

partner agencies, where their needs can be assessed

to boost the impact of the campaign. The response has

by an outreach worker, who can decide whether they

been good with both calls and online reports increasing

would be best placed into supported accommodation

steadily in the few months following the campaign.

or somewhere more independent. The aim is for a quick and suitable move away from the streets, with on-going

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

support to maintain tenancies and enter volunteering,

Chris Coffey is the Strategic Manager for the rough

education or employment.

sleeper team. He credits the reactive approach for a fall in the number of rough sleepers in Kent and Medway,

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ROUGH SLEEPING

even in the face of increasing demand: “Whilst some

sleepers. People often feel unsure about what to do

areas have seen a slight increase, overall rough sleeper

and who to tell. This not only gives them the power to do

numbers are down on last year and that is a direct result

something, but will also provide you with vital information

of the reactive approach and the intelligence provided

to find rough sleepers quickly.

by the public. Without the service, numbers would have most certainly increased to mirror the national trend.

FACTS & FIGURES

We are investing our own resources into the service but

April 2012 - service started

changes to the welfare system and the pressures people

1,300 calls per month to the helpline and rising.

are facing both financially and emotionally will make

228 outreach session undertaken to locate rough

demand difficult to meet in the same way next year, without continued external funding and support from the

sleepers •

public.”

114 ‘new’ rough sleepers supported off the streets in planned move-ons

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

34 of those have been housed in the private rented sector

The buy-in of the local authorities is key, particularly in

55 housed in supported accommodation

the strategic development of the project. Porchlight also

12 reconnections outside of Kent

advises getting the public involved by developing some

176 assessed as more long-term and passed to the

way for them to let you know the whereabouts of rough

Core Outreach Service.

THE DAY CENTRE PERSPECTIVE MANCHESTER & SALFORD

Manchester and Salford between them have seven day

elsewhere, are helped to return. The aim is that no one

centres and a range of other services which provide day

should have to live on the streets for want of a bus or train

and night time support to rough sleepers and those at

fare.

risk of rough sleeping. These are run by an assortment of faith based, third sector and housing associations. The

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Day Centres project has been designed to encourage

“This project is the first stage in the development of a consistent approach across the day centres, which is being developed through a new Day Centre’s Forum. This has already delivered training and has set up an alert system for sharing information about individuals who are causing particular concern. We are helping to expel the myth that day centres sustain people on the streets. With improved outcomes monitoring by the end of the project we’ll be able to show that this isn’t the case and that together we have been able to help deliver a reduction in rough sleeping in our two cities.” – Amanda Croome, Coordinator, The Booth Centre

and support all the day centres to adopt No Second Night Out principles and to help deliver a reduction in the level of rough sleeping in the two cities. It will encourage more integrated services with improved coordination and links between the day centres, statutory services and voluntary services, promoting standardised recording, information sharing, outcome monitoring and single service offers.

AREA COVERED: Manchester & Salford WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT? As part of the project the Booth Centre has re-evaluated

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

its services in the light of No Second Night Out principles,

Day centres should embrace No Second Night Out and

and has launched a new advice service to ensure

use it to re-examine your services – and to check that

that rough sleepers are assessed and referred into

you are doing all you can to reduce rough sleeping. Day

housing more quickly. They also aim to identify people

centres are part of the solution – they just need to be

who are having problems in their tenancies, so they

better at making sure people understand the role they

can be supported to keep their homes at an early

can play.

stage. Dedicated time is being spent with entrenched rough sleepers every day, discussing alternatives and

FACTS & FIGURES

building up their motivation to change. This is starting to

Seven day centres. The project started in October and

yield positive results. Booth Centre plans to share what

has clear targets in all four of the NSNO areas which

it learns from the process to the other day centres. A

should result in 360 people being helped off the streets or

reconnections fund, for use by all the day centres, has

being prevented from ending up on the streets, including

been set up to ensure that people sleeping rough or

targeting some of the most entrenched rough sleepers.

at risk of sleeping rough, who have accommodation WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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TRUE PARTNERSHIP NORTHAMPTON

Referrals to the service are made through Northampton Borough Council’s gateway team when people present as homeless at Oasis House, a Places of Change project. The service is set in two connected maisonettes that are connected by a door on the ground floor, offering

engagement with people who are entrenched, allowing a personalised approach to be taken with them. NAASH uses its charitable status to assist those who have no recourse to public funds to either return home or to find work and accommodation.” – Project Manager

11 bed spaces in shared rooms. Three key workers

bed spaces.

“Without the support through the No Second Night Out service I would not have been able to move forward with my life. I didn’t know what to do as I didn’t have enough ‘support needs’ to make me a priority to anyone. I am very grateful for the support I received and this gave me some time to sort my situation out.” – Simon, a customer

AREA COVERED: Northamptonshire

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

work with customers to achieve as quick a move on as possible. One support worker works at night. The project is managed by NAASH working in a true partnership with Northampton Borough Council, with decisions made jointly. Housing Benefit covers the local LHA rate for the

A project like this cannot succeed without true

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT?

partnership working with the local council.

Northampton is a university town, which makes finding move on accommodation a major challenge. Links have

All projects are different and led by the local need – so

been made with PRS landlords who will take referrals

your project needs to be built around that. Other local

just from NAASH. Northampton Borough Council has

organisations working in the sector need to be consulted

recognised the issue with move on and have leased

about what that need is. And it’s essential to get move on

two other properties to NAASH to enable move on and

agreements in place very early on.

prevent the service from silting up. Staff who work in your projects need to be able to Another challenge is that Northampton has a substantial

influence the development of the service itself, informing

number of EU nationals sleeping on its streets.

both policies and working practices. It should be agreed form the outset that the service may evolve during the

The project is connected to a Places of Change project,

first 6 months. A flexible approach is a must.

so referrals can be made into it for people who need additional support, rather than risking their return to the

FACTS & FIGURES

streets. NAASH works in real partnership with Northampton

six beds were available from May, with the other 5

Borough Council (NBC) and all decisions are made as a

coming available in September.

partnership. 33 rough sleepers have been through the service The project has its own posters and cards to explain the

with only one person (an entrenched rough sleeper)

vision of the service, which are placed within the locality.

returning to the street. With increased access to move on accommodation, NAASH expect the number of people

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE? “The service has been opened for 6 months and it is apparent that it needed to evolve from the original idea, which it is. True partnerships with NBC have allowed this service to meet needs and this continues. Many customers are now working and, without this project, their needs would not have been met – and it is probable that they would have been unable to continue with their employment. The service provides consistent pre

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they can help to increase substantially. The Homelessnes Transition Fund provided £226K to fund the project. NBC agreed to provide the properties and also provide approximately £80K over a three year period. NAASH provides approximately £40K over this period and will now fund the recently acquired move on properties.


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

ROUGH SLEEPING

BE ADAPTABLE EXETER

The Exeter Transitions Project is a collaborative project led by Exeter charity St Petrock’s. A Rough Sleeper Response Team aim to assess all new rough sleepers in the city within 24 hours and to provide a single service offer within 72 hours. A 24 hour telephone line to support public reporting of rough sleepers is in place. Exeter City Council accommodates clients in four B&B assessment beds until a support into local accommodation or reconnection can be made. Once someone has been helped off the street, the project also offers a personalised brokerage support service, providing a range of services to help individuals

way in which it allows our Response Team Workers to ‘think outside the box’ and offer clients options that are tailored to their needs. I was particularly aware of the benefits of this creative approach recently when meeting with Ryan, a 20 year old white male. Ryan was assessed and placed into temporary accommodation upon his arrival at St Petrock’s centre. The team advocated on his behalf to the council to overcome concerns regarding a conviction. Ryan was provided with accommodation and floating support; he has subsequently secured a full time job. It’s very rewarding to see how, in cases like Ryan’s, the project has enabled us to intervene quickly, draw on multi-agency resources and help people turn their lives around.” – Project Manager

maintain their tenancies and gain independence. The service is accessible, flexible and can respond rapidly to

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

referrals through a virtual assessment panel.

Gaining awareness of the characteristics of your local client group is crucial. In addition to compiling existing

AREA COVERED: Exeter

data, visiting volunteer-led local projects can help identify the most effective locations in which to make

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT?

new contacts.

Exeter is experiencing an increased migration to the city of people from across the region. The project has built on

Adaptability - the willingness to experiment and to

existing resources and increased co-ordination between

regularly evaluate the efficacy of responses - is equally

services to meet this challenge. A high proportion of

important. Multi-agency working groups hold regular

new contacts are made through St Petrock’s day centre.

operational and review meetings to ensure the on-going

Response Team workers co-ordinate with staff to ensure

improvement of services.

that the needs of new rough sleepers are balanced with those of other clients. Targeted out-of-hours outreach

Establishing clearly defined operational principles from

has helped new rough-sleepers to engage earlier with

the outset can reduce the complexities of partnership

services. The adoption of a common assessment by all

working and ensure a shared approach is maintained.

agencies has also improved response times.

FACTS & FIGURES The availability of assessment accommodation has

been a challenge, with a shortage of local move-on options leading to delays in freeing up assessment beds.

2012 to 31 March 2014. •

Some new rough sleepers are too high-risk for existing accommodation.

The project is being funded for the period from 1 April The team have seen 70% more new rough sleepers than expected, on average of 22.75 per month.

Within the first 4 months of the project, 82% of new rough sleepers received an assessment within 24

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

hours.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the

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WHATEVER IT TAKES SOUTH SOMERSET

BCHA secured funding from the Homelessness Transition

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Fund to deliver a No Second Night Out service in

“The beauty of our roles is that we have the freedom and flexibility to work across agency boundaries. Our only remit is to try and put in place creative and flexible responses for each client, and that seems to work well. The other thing that has worked well is being able take people straight off the street into an emergency placement, and then assess what will work best for them.” – Kerry and Sharon, Specialist Outreach and Resettlement Coordinators, Barnabas Housing Association

South Somerset, in partnership with Barnabas Housing Association – a provider already successfully delivering services in Yeovil and South Somerset, and part of the BCHA group. The service is delivered by 2 Specialist Outreach and Resettlement Coordinators, and run based on the main principles and learning from the MEAM pilot we delivered in Somerset. This ensures that as many people can be supported in the most effective way, with a particular focus on those with complex needs. Workers act as ‘single navigators’ for each client throughout their

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

journey into independent accommodation – providing

The biggest learning and development area during

consistency and brokerage with other agencies. Clients’

the project has been ensuring that the service had an

personal budgets are used to maximise choice and

‘emergency’ intervention approach to rough sleeping.

control. Multi-agency coordination is central to effective/

This is what led to the use of the ‘sit-up’ service provision,

flexible and sustainable responses.

which has proved to be successful.

AREA COVERED: South Somerset, with some links to

Another important feature is that the two front-

services across Somerset.

line roles are seen as separate from the Barnabas Accommodation provision. This means they can act

WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT?

as the ‘single navigators’ more easily, which is having a

The service operates within a rural area, where identifying

positive influence on working practices within the main

rough sleepers can be challenging as they can remain

accommodation service. Approaches to inclusion and

hidden. Outreach sessions are targeted at both towns

flexibility have become stronger as services work together

and rural areas on a regular basis.

across service boundaries towards individual client outcomes.

Following on from the success of the Liverpool City Council ‘sit-up’ service, we have introduced this

Make sure you employ the right quality staff. The South

approach, which has been particularly effective –

Somerset project has two excellent, experienced workers,

despite initial reservations.

both of whom are equally happy to chair a multi-agency meeting, don muddy boots to go on outreach at 6am,

The service uses the support of BCHA’s innovative contact

or help a client decorate a new flat! They are ready,

centre ‘i-Support’ which provides a robust lone worker

whatever it takes.

support as well as a 24/7 reporting line. Clients of the service can contact i-Support at any time to get support

FACTS & FIGURES

from skilled support staff who have access to their live

The project started in April 2012 and in the first 6 months

files.

worked with a total of 58 individuals. Of these 35 were either believed to be or were verified as verified as new

The service was needed due to the closure of a local

rough sleepers. All 35 were able to access the NSNO

voluntary emergency nightshelter and made possible

provision within Barnabas House, ensuring they did not

by the development of Barnabas House with Places for

spend a second night out. All have since gone on to

Change grant funding.

secure more stable accommodation. None of the 35 has returned to the streets.

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THE LEARNING CURVE OXFORD

Oxford City Council has teamed up with Broadway and

to verify rough sleepers, to hospitals and the local job

Oxford Homeless Pathways to launch No Second Night

centre.”

Out across Oxfordshire. Lesley Dewhurst, Chief Executive of OxHoP, agrees. “We Officially launched in July 2012, the project has seen more

launched NSNO four months ago to services and to the

than 80 people accessing services through the hub, 70 of

public, who can connect rough sleepers to the service

whom have been moved on with a single service offer.

via our local phone line run by Broadway. We were clear then that we were only at the beginning of our journey,

Jaffa Holland is the Pathway Leader for Broadway Oxford.

and we have been learning ever since.

“The Oxford hub is different from London or Liverpool because it’s run from an existing accommodation

“We are enjoying working with Broadway within O’Hanlon

service. We assess verified rough sleepers and offer them

House. However, we do think that things would have

a space in one of our seven beds here at O’Hanlon House

gone more smoothly with clearer communication and

or in other hostels across the county.

liaison with external services such as the district councils well in advance of the start of the service.

“We work with all rough sleepers in the area, which is slightly different from the original NSNO concept which

“That said, there are signs that the system is starting to

aimed to help new rough sleepers in the capital. For

work – in this morning’s post were details of a person

example, our outreach team recently worked with a lady

sleeping rough in South Oxfordshire who hadn’t previously

who had been rough sleeping for around eight years.

been identified. This involvement is essential to the

Initially, she found being indoors too much and returned

success of the project, and working more closely with

to the streets, but the team continued to work with her

other services, such as the police and the local job

and now she is ready to move onto independent living

centre, has definitely benefitted everyone.

after just a month in a hostel! “Of course we are working in uncertain times and the “Of course the whole process has been a learning curve

lack of move on accommodation is definitely our biggest

– if you want NSNO to succeed you need clear goals and

worry as our beds are full every night, but my one bit of

guides of what you can and cannot achieve. Everyone

advice to anyone thinking of setting up NSNO in their

needs to be committed and you need to continue to

area would be to make sure you have clear systems set

adapt and get the message out there to everyone – from

up with everyone who is involved from the outset.”

the police, some of whom we have trained in Oxford

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THE OTHER ROUTE IN Can Housing First work in England, asks Becky Elton, when its approach seems so at odds with the route we support most people to follow out of homelessness? It’s a pretty simple concept: you get someone off the

In a Housing First approach, the commitment is to the

streets and straight into their own long term, secure

person not the housing. Relapse does not mean eviction

tenancy with high levels of support – but Housing First

or loss of housing it means obtaining treatment and

goes against the grain of what we in the homelessness

returning home. Similarly, eviction from housing does not

sector have thought of as the “right” pathway for people

mean discharge from the program - it usually means

who are homeless.

relocation.

We prefer to look at the negatives first: homelessness; not

THE RIGHT SUPPORT TO AVOID ISOLATION

housing ready; in debt, or more often “in rent arrears”;

Support from workers with experience of homelessness

substance abuser; metal health problems; care leaver;

is crucial to a successful Housing First scheme, as is

offender. We look first at the things that act as barriers to

supporting people to build new social networks so that

a secure home.

isolation doesn’t tip them back into their previous lifestyle.

That isn’t to say that individual services and support

This all fits with the increased focus on personalisation,

workers don’t treat people as individuals. But does

and the better outcomes it can help people with multiple

the system? It is linear, it demands that people to

needs achieve in homelessness services in the UK. It

move through direct access hostels to second stage

also chimes with something I often hear as I speak to

supported accommodation, and then sometimes on

support workers and people who have experienced

to intermediate accommodation or an introductory

homelessness in the North East: namely, that many

tenancy. Their progress along this path depends on

people have been excluded or self-exclude from

people working through their clinical issues until they are

supported accommodation because they can’t cope

deemed fit to have their own tenancy.

with the group environment. Rotating round the hostel circuit only serves to increase social exclusion.

A permanent home becomes the reward for fixing yourself.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL This isn’t a rallying cry to go out and dismantle our existing

THE ALTERNATIVE

hostels and housing pathways. Housing First won’t suit

At the Pathways Housing First scheme in New York,

everyone – and we know that the current system can

founder Sam Tsemberis turns the traditional approach on

work for many people, when they spend a short time in

its head. Treat homelessness, he says, as an economic

the homelessness system, working through pathways to

issue. Solve the economic problem – the lack of a

secure long term accommodation, establishing positive

permanent home – then help people work on the other

social networks and moving into training or employment

things that will ensure they can maintain that home.

in the process.

Back in the early 1990s, when Sam and his team asked

Although Housing First doesn’t require people to be

homeless people with mental health problems and drug

tenancy ready, it does need them to have some

or alcohol dependence how they could help , the answer

motivation, however small, to maintain their own tenancy.

was clear. They wanted a place to live – not to get clean

Not everyone is ready for that.

and sober. They didn’t want to live in a service – they wanted a place to live and to go out to the services they

A Housing First pilot run by Turning Point Scotland has

needed. Housing First is a direct response to that ask.

found that in particular it’s much more difficult to make Housing First work for young people. They’ve found that

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ROUGH SLEEPING

KEVIN’S STORY 39 year old Kevin was homeless for 20 years, after his drug

gym - to encourage him to get out and become less

use led to his alienation from the family home. He had

isolated.

never had his own tenancy, drifting between sleeping rough, staying with an alcoholic partner, and staying with

Supported by an Addaction day programme, Kevin

family.

has had periods of abstinence, but he has also had periods using heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. He is

Now in his Housing First home, Kevin meets with support

looking beyond that though, with a long term ambition

workers three times a week who have helped him with the

of going into further education to complete a Social

practical basics of maintaining his tenancy - from food

Care qualification. He is well aware that even sporadic

hygiene and laundry procedures to reading labels and

substance misuse could jeopardise that, so he’s working

separating colours from whites. These might sound like

towards abstinence with his Peer Support Workers.

basic things, but for someone who has never had their own tenancy, they can be the cause of major anxieties.

A major positive in Kevin’s new life is his effort to reestablished ties with his family. He has already become

With the help of a Community Care Grant, Kevin has

a major part in the lives of two grown-up nephews, both

decorated his home room by room, and made it a place

of whom have a family of their own now. He says this has

he quite rightly feels proud of. To help Kevin overcome his

made such a difference to him - being accepted back

self-consciousness in public, one of his weekly meetings

into the family circle and trusted for the first time in many

is out in the community - at the cinema, in cafes, at the

years.

young people often seem to lack the motivation to maintain a tenancy. So at its most effective – and personalised - Housing First needs to be part of a range of services that people are supported to choose from. THE QUESTION But Housing First begs many questions – at least when it comes to getting it to work with our existing way of doing things. How can you fit Housing First into an existing set of homelessness services that are based around a pathway, without making it the default option for people who ‘fail’ the pathway multiple times? Is it practical to develop a marketplace for homelessness services in the face of cuts to budgets that have left services full to bursting and with little room to offer choice? Will commissioners support a service that means committing to long term support, much longer than the arbitrary two year timescale many Supporting People funded services have had to adapt to? Can providers of social housing rise to the challenge – as Glasgow Housing Association has – and offer people who may have been evicted in the past and who have the WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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potential (both real and imagined) to cause all sorts of

it was simply about ending homelessness for all it would

community issues a tenancy on the same terms as their

also include strategies for creating more affordable

others?

housing, improving living wages, developing more non-profit operated rental housing, greater emphasis

Can landlords help support providers to respond rapidly

on employment, and other interventions aimed at

to get people into housing, striking while the iron’s hot?

addressing poverty and the root causes of homelessness.

How can it work with current changes to benefits,

BECKY ELTON: Do people have to “fail” in a mainstream

and given that the increase in age threshold for the

system in order to access Housing First?

Shared Accommodation Rate and the bedroom tax will mean that many people will have to live in shared

SAM TSEMBERIS: Absolutely not. It is possible to bring

accommodation?

people into a Housing First program right away. By Housing First I mean a program intended to serve people

And it has to be asked, are we in the homelessness sector

living with mental health challenges so there is a need

brave enough to genuinely put the people who use our

for support services. If you are serving a population that

services in control of their own accommodation and

is homeless because they are poor and do not need

support?

services then you don’t need a Housing First program. You need to provide people with immediate access to

THE VIEW FROM NEW YORK

affordable housing, jobs, etc.

I asked Sam Tsemberis, who started the original Housing First programme in New York 20 years ago and has

It is actually simpler and cheaper than temporary housing

conducted extensive research into Housing First models,

or shelter solutions but of course requires a change in

if he thinks Housing First can work in the UK

policy and political will. The population served by Housing First can be offered a program as soon as possible: the

BECKY ELTON: Here in the UK, in order for Housing First

moment they become homeless, leave a psychiatric

to be successful, would we need a full system change,

hospital or jail cell with no fixed address at discharge, or

where a Housing First approach is the norm?

even as they are threatened with eviction and before they become homeless. The mechanics of the program

SAM TSEMBERIS: Housing First is a system change for

will work well in all of these situations.

most places. It does not need a system change to work. It starts working with those who the system has failed and

The reason Housing First has been implemented as a

demonstrates that you can have successful outcomes

program accepting those that have failed repeatedly

for the same people using this approach. That can be

in traditional programs is more a ‘homeless industry’

a powerful demonstration for a community. Currently,

business decision. Housing First is essentially saying, we

it seems that Housing First is being introduced in the UK,

are not taking away the clients you work with (you will

like in many other EU countries, as such a demonstration

still be in business) we are only taking clients who have

project.

failed your program (or really, the clients your program has failed). If a community embraced a comprehensive

Once it’s effectiveness is demonstrated with the

Housing First approach I think it would be possible to

people who have been failed by the existing system

convert lots (not all) of transitional and emergency

then the mark of successful system transformation will

housing into HF programs and provide permanent

be measured by how widely it is replicated and how

housing to a greater number of people with service

quickly it ends homelessness for people living with

needs.

mental health challenges in that community. Housing First is a specialized program for special populations. If

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?

ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE

HTF Director Samantha Rennie asks: what could your service do with £25,000 to help prepare for the future? On first glance, the £20m Homelessness Transition Fund

to engage and adapt brings the risk of being left behind.

might sound like a lot. That is until you realise it’s targeted at a sector that has already lost an estimated £200m in

And that is where we come in.

Supporting People funding. FUNDING TIME This isn’t the time for sticking plasters. But it isn’t time for

The Homelessness Transition Fund was set up to help

cynicism either. If we are going to face these challenges

organisations to adapt, change and turn new challenges

head on, we need to be able to influence the changes.

into opportunities. Our main grants programme is all

We need to rethink the way the voluntary sector does

about supporting major reconfigurations in service

business. We need to ask what these reforms mean for

delivery. But now we’ve launched Future Ready. It’s a

people at the sharp end of homelessness. It’s time to

quicker, more agile option, with grants of between £5,000

draw on the resilience and creativity we’ve used in the

and £25,000.

past, engage with the new structures and adopt new ways of working.

How much closer could you be to taking advantage of the local opportunities I mentioned if you could backfill a

We may face threats but there are also real opportunities.

key post or recruit consultants to get you started? Would you buy yourself time to build relationships with other

BEING NOTICED

sectors and pilot new service models – or would you

In health, new GP led Clinical Commissioning Groups

investigate systems for collecting data so you can provide

are being launched, bringing evidence-based

evidence to commissioners to demonstrate the need for

commissioning to the fore. The robust collection and

the support you give?

analysis of client data could really influence local clinical priorities – so again, making sure your service is known to

Or perhaps a future ready grant might help you recruit

the chair of your CCG will put you in the frame for future

and develop your volunteers, or join up back-room

discussions.

services across local organisations, such as IT and personnel. Or would it buy you the space to restructure

Then there are the recently elected Police and Crime

your organisation and reconfigure your service – or

Commissioners. They have new powers and budgets to

apply commercial expertise to turn a profit in your social

tackle - so there’s an opporunity to be part of their plans

enterprise?

when plans are drawn up. The list could go on – and it isn’t designed to be So while the sector has been hit hard, there are still

prescriptive. Ultimately, future ready gives services the

opportunities, if we’re prepared to adapt. But how do

breathing space to adapt to the changing landscape.

you find the time and resources to seek out and grasp new opportunities, meet key players, and getting your

This is the first step to making the transition to more

organisation fit for the future while carrying on with the

sustainable funding.

essential everyday work you do? Not many organisations can easily afford to do this but on the other hand, failing

homeless.org.uk/fund

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YOUNG RISKING FUTURES Reduced welfare support for young people is already increasing their chances of becoming homeless, reveals our latest study into youth homelessness. Following a survey of 117 homeless charities and 101 local authorities, we have published Young & Homeless 2012, and its findings of provide a strong case as to why the Government should not go ahead with any proposed plans to cut housing benefit for under 25 year olds. The study found that at a time of rising homelessness among under-25, the main cause of which is family breakdown, welfare reforms are restricting the ability of communities to house all those who need help and potentially adding to a rise in homelessness. We found that because of these changes: • •

Almost half of services have reported difficulties

65% of local authorities report a negative impact on

supporting 16-17 year olds due to ineffective

the ability of young people to access private rented

relationships with children’s services

accommodation due to the extension of SAR •

Almost half of local authorities report that capping

Jean Templeton, Chief Executive of St Basils, says:

housing allowance for young people has had a similar impact The study highlights some deep concerns for the sector, showing that since last year: •

50% of providers say more young people are seeking support

65% of young people supported by providers are homeless due to relationship breakdown with family, friends or partners

54% of providers report closures of youth services in

“This survey puts the spotlight on the experience of agencies working with young people who are homeless or at risk. St Basils alone has seen a 32% increase in young people approaching us for assistance in the last year at a time when resources are being reduced and public sector funding is under pressure. We are accommodating a higher proportion of young people under 19 who have no experience of fending for themselves and are unable to return home ... We have a collective responsibility to care about our young people and when times are hard, it’s time to step up not step back.”

their area due to funding cuts •

More than half of providers are turning young people away because they are full

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Read the full report: homeless.org.uk/youth-homelessness


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HOMELESS SAVE THE SAFETY NET Centrepoint’s CEO, Seyi Obakin, fears the Prime Minister’s proposal to remove housing benefit from claimants under the age of 25 will not only lead to more homelessness, but also risk higher youth unemployment. Centrepoint and York University research estimates

The Prime Minister argues that young people who are

there are 80,000 young people who experience

able to and opt to stay at home are playing by the rules,

homelessness each year in this country. Faced with high

but many of the young people we support at Centrepoint

unemployment, chronic undersupply of housing, and

simply cannot choose to stay at home and save for a

the reforms brought forward since 2010, which are not all

mortgage. They are forced to play by different rules as

bad, homeless young people are now in the most difficult

they do not have the same context of stable families,

situation anyone imagined, just a few years ago.

good education, good health and a decent job.

Over the past two years, Centrepoint has changed the

Removing the housing benefit of young people with no

way we support young people, placing even greater

family homes to go back to will not make those who can

emphasis on skills, qualifications, getting a job and

stay at home and save for a mortgage feel any better. It

moving on to a better home and a better future.

will simply make more young people homeless.

But just when we thought we were getting back on track,

It’s difficult to see how the Prime Minister’s plan will save

the Prime Minister floated a plan to remove housing

money. Many young people are in work but the pay

benefit from claimants under the age of 25.

is so low they cannot rent without the housing benefit top up. If they lose benefit, they are quite likely also to

We all know that the country is going through difficult

lose their homes and jobs, with local authorities and the

times and the days of limitless resources are gone for the

government then picking up a higher bill.

foreseeable future. However, in his excellent report for the ACEVO commission, David Miliband correctly describes

Whilst political parties will always want to fly kites,

high youth unemployment as a crisis the country cannot

they would do well to remember that words have

afford. Along with family breakdown and homelessness,

consequences. We are already seeing some landlords

we must all, within our now limited resources do the very

beginning to stop renting to housing benefit claimants as

best we can for those in need. But there is a limit to how

a result of the Prime Minister’s comments.

innovative and thrifty charities and young people can be. The government should reel in this kite and focus on The proposals appear to have two main aims: to save

delivering the desperately needed affordable homes

money, and to level the playing field so that a young

which would really help cut the benefit bill.

person who chooses to stay at home and save for a mortgage deposit is not disadvantaged whilst some of their peers claim benefits. If these plans were to become law, the government would fail on both counts.

Centrepoint has launched a petition against cutting housing benefit for under 25s: centrepoint.org.uk/cuts WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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THE NIGHTSTOP

TRINITY

New Forest Nightstop is the only emergency provision for homeless people in the New Forest. Jude Todd, its sole employee, explains how this tiny organisation - with its 30 volunteers - has provided 1,800 nights of safety to more than 250 young people.

OUR STORY

town. Travelling across the district can be an enormous

New Forest Nightstop provides the only emergency

accommodation within their own area and support

overnight accommodation for homeless 16-24 year olds

network.

challenge with limited public transport. This makes it particularly difficult for young people to find work or

in the homes of trained and approved host households around the New Forest. We’re the only safety net - a

The affluent status of the National Park means there is a

community response to homelessness.

huge lack of affordable, rented accommodation that young people can access. Forest landlords are less

WHAT HOMELESSNESS LOOKS LIKE

amenable to people in receipt of housing benefit than

People are shocked to hear that homelessness even exists

city landlords whose rent prices are lower.

in the New Forest, an area that is known for the beauty of its national park and affluence. But homelessness

Faced with few options, many young people are foorced

exists here as much as anywhere else - a reality that

to consider leaving the area, and their support networks,

people find hard to swallow. They expect homelessness

to seek work in adjoining cities. But once there they are

to ‘look like’ a rough sleeper in a shop doorway, but the

often not accepted for hostels and shelters as they are

homelessness we work with often goes unseen. The young

often full and the young person is ‘out of area’. They are

people we help look no different to your son, daughter,

then at the mercy of the full of danger and risk on the

niece or nephew. These are not street-hardened rough

streets.

sleepers. They’re everyday teenagers, in crisis. Through our team of 30 volunteers, New Forest Nightstop Their vulnerability means they are likely to become

provides free emergency overnight accommodation,

victims of abuse, rape, violence and addictions if they

meals, laundry, baths, travel costs, toiletries, start-up

end up on the streets. When they are referred to New

furniture, food parcel referrals, start-up home energy

Forest Nightstop, they are completely overwhelmed and

costs, practical support with benefit claims, housing forms

traumatised in the face of sudden homelessness.

and the progression of their housing case.

They arrive for any number of reasons - family breakdown,

But it’s so much more than a B&B. It can be a listening ear,

unemployment, fleeing violence or abuse - and they

a sense of belonging and trust. The value of acceptance

come from a range of backgrounds, from the poor to the

and someone believing in you is priceless and can last

wealthy. Last year, two thirds of the young people who

a whole lifetime. The offered by our hosts improves not

stayed with us were still in full-time education or training.

only the self-esteem of young people but also their life chances, including their outcomes for employment,

A VERY RURAL PROBLEM

training, health and housing.

We face some unique challenges. It is a rural district with young people often only familiar with their home

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FEATURES

A YOUNG PERSON’S STORY Katie came to New Forest Nightstop at 21. She had been homeless for a year after being rejected and abandoned by family. She had been trying to move about, staying with different people, spending her days in local libraries just to keep warm. She tried desperately to apply for work, but with no home and rising depression she could not achieve it, let alone sustain it. After suffering rejection, homelessness, hunger and rape she would wake every day believing it might be her last. A month before coming to Nightstop, she attempted suicide by overdose. Five years on, Katie is now excelling in every aspect of her life. She has completed all three Duke of Edinburgh Awards, become a qualified youth worker, and received the Prime Minister’s Award for National Civic Service. She also serves on the Young People’s Advisory Board of the Parliamentary Undersecretary for Children and Families, volunteered in El Salvador for ten weeks for youth groups in local communities and this year been an Olympic Torchbearer. The list goes on, but Katie says: ‘The whole course of my life changed because of Nightstop. I didn’t think I would live to my 22 birthday but here I am, 26 and I wake up each day and can’t believe how far I have come. Nightstop listened and cared. They saw the real me before I saw myself. They literally saved my life and I will do anything I can to pass that on to others, to show other young people that with someone there, believing in you, you can make it through.’

A HOST’S STORY

otherwise the young person might have become a

I first saw an article written about Nightstop a few years

dirty washing! The washing machine was on most of the

before we became hosts. It wasn’t the right time, with

night. We dressed him in some of my son’s clothes and he

four teenage sons living at home, but a few years down

went away clean, fresh and smiling.

permanent member of the household. The worst thing that has happened was a young man with bags full of

the line, and only one son at home, my husband and I discussed becoming hosts. I couldn’t imagine what it

I’ve always felt supported in Nightstop, with help only a

must be like for young people with nowhere to go. The

phone call away. I love it when I get a call from Nightstop

boys had been so lucky, with close family and friends

to say that a young person has enjoyed their stay and

nearby.

says thank you.

We’ve now had a few young people to stay. We haven’t

When I retire I hope to be more available to have young

looked back. Twice I have had to take as big step back

people to stay. I’d recommend it. WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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PREPARE, ACT PUBLICISE, SHARE As local authorities deliberate their Supporting People budgets, Homeless Link’s Head of Regions, Joe Kent urges you to join with other services in your area to make sure homelessness is not forgotten. Two years ago budget discussions were going back

be even more difficult budget settlements for supporting

and forth between service providers, officers and

people providers in the coming year 2013/14.

commissioners. This year is very different and there is hardly any discussion or information flowing in either

We are urging all providers to take the four steps below.

direction.

Our research into Supporting People funding across a range of Local Authorities tells us that this approach works

There are concerning indicators that, in addition to the

to help shore up funding and mitigate against contract

25% average reductions over the previous year, there will

reductions and de-commissioning.

1. PREPARE...

3. PUBLICISE...

...by launching a cohesive sector response in your area

...their visit by contacting the local media

1. Talk to partner agencies and agree on key messages

1. Use photo opportunities

and local recommendations 2. Develop a couple of local case studies 3. Evidence the local impact you make on criminal justice, health and homelessness

2. ACT... ...by inviting key local politicians to visit your service

2. Encourage positive quotes 3. Ask them to Take a Step to end rough sleeping

4. TELL US... ...what happened 1. Send us information about any visits 2. Send us information about local budgets as soon as

1. Prepare your key messages 2. Support service users to tell their stories 3. Give them information

you find out

homeless.org.uk/regions

TAKE A STEP: A GUIDE TO LOCAL INFLUENCING Getting to grips with local influencing is essential:

that will be directly affected by local decisions. Because

more decisions about how services are run are being

of this, it’s you that local decision makers want to talk to

made at a local level and voluntary organisations

most.

and their clients are crucial to supporting local democracy.

That’s why we’ve worked with our members to create a toolkit for local influencing, taking you through the key

Influencing your local councillor, media or partner

steps to getting your message heard, understood and

organisations may seem daunting, but there is no one in

acted on by local decision makers.

a better place to do this than you. You’re the expert on your community and you’re the person or organisation

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homeless.org.uk/local-influencing


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TELLING TALES Charities are often criticised for the ways in which they portray the people they help. They are accused of using ‘poverty porn’, shock tactics, emotional blackmail and more, as they try to raise awareness and funds. A recent report, User Views of Fundraising, found that many users of homelessness services understand why this might seem necessary - but asked if there’s a better way. Here we look at two projects that used more creative approaches to help people experiencing homelessness tell their own stories, in their own words.

WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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SOMEWHERE NOWHERE: LIVES WITHOUT HOMES Somewhere Nowhere: Lives Without

people experiencing homelessness and

Homes depicts the real life stories

found their stories deeply interesting,

of five people experiencing

moving, and sometimes shocking.

homelessness and describes, in

The novel is a way of talking about

their own words, the life events that

homelessness to the public without doing

preceded their homeless episodes

it in a traditional academic way.”

and the challenges they face in moving forward with their lives - with

The title Somewhere Nowhere was

key events in their lives presented in

chosen to reflect the displacement that

a graphic novel format.

people often described in their life story.

The book, the brainchild of researcher

Their main goal was to raise issues they

Gareth Morris and illustrated by Sam

encountered during the research,

Dahl, was created as part of a two

to inform and educate people who

year research project to explore the

normally wouldn’t have an interest

life courses of people experiencing

in homelessness. The book has been

homelessness in Stoke on Trent. The

published on Lulu, at the lowest price

words in the five stories in the book came directly from

the distributor allows, with the aim of reaching as many

interviews carried out during the course of the research.

people as possible.

“We wanted people to engage with our research in an

bit.ly/somewhere-nowhere

accessible way,” says Gareth Morris. “I interviewed many

Illustrated by Sam Dahl: www.samdahl.co.uk

WHERE FROM? WHERE NOW? This multimedia exhibition at the gallery@oxo this

They have spoken of experiences such as sexual and

autumn provided a unique and stark glimpse into the

emotional abuse, domestic violence as well as neglect

lives of a number of homeless women in London. It is

and loss of children.

now available online. We asked Georgina about her approach and what she Told in their own words, Where from? Where now? lays

hopes to achieve. She told us: “I wanted to help people

bare the reality of women’s homelessness in London,

tell their stories, and it had to be based on first person

looking at the reasons that have led women to become

accounts. For that, I needed to capture real voices.

homeless and how they are rebuilding their lives.

Their words not mine. The use of audio accounts in the exhibition added a dimension you can’t get through the

In partnership with St Mungo’s, photographer Georgina

photographs or written words alone. I was very conscious

Cranston spent eight months in hostels, going out with

of not interfering with their stories. They weren’t my stories

outreach teams, meeting people sleeping rough, as

to edit down. It was important to show lives, not sound

well as women living amongst the hidden homeless

bites.

population and those now in their own accommodation. Her work takes us into the lives of these women through

“My hope is that, through the exhibition, these women’s

their own voices as well as through interviews with the

stories will reach not only other women going through a

people who work with them.

similar experience but also a wider audience, including the general public as well as service providers and policy

Although all of the women’s stories are entirely individual, they have one thing in common: that they have survived not just one but a series of traumatic events in their lives.

makers.”

wherefromwherenow.org

Many thanks to Gareth Morris and Georgina Cranston for kindly granting permission for us to reproduce their artwork and photography on the cover of this magazine and throughout its pages. 40

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Above: Jakki, 46, spends time in her hostel room, London. Below: Amanda, 44, begs in Central London. Images copyright Georgina Cranston. wherefromwherenow.org | georginacranston.com

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SUPER-STRONG

CALL TO ACTION In November, the Home Office launched a ten week consultation on minimum pricing for alcohol. It’s a big step in the campaign against super-strength drinks, but it’s is no time to relax, says Mike Nicholas of Thames Reach. The three men sat slumped on the pavement just

plans to introduce minimum pricing at 45p a unit, a plan

off London’s Brick Lane as I hurried past them at the

we hope the whole homelessness sector gets behind.

weekend. Their cans of Skol Super were clutched tightly, but their gaze somehow lacked focus as I worked my way

THE ‘YOUNG OLDS’

around them.

For seven years, Thames Reach, the homeless charity I work for, has campaigned tirelessly to highlight the

One man attempted to stand up and stumbled forward

problems caused by these drinks. This is based on our

before crashing back to the ground, much to the

work with thousands of people in the past decade

amusement of his acquaintances.

whose lives have been blighted by these super-strength drinks. When we have

Yellow skinned, probably jaundiced, he was clearly ill.

successfully encouraged

The damp patch around his crotch on his fouled jeans

them to enter alcohol

displayed his failure to keep control of his own body’s

treatment or switch to

functions.

weaker brews many have got their lives back on

Super-strength lagers such as Skol Super have become

track.

the drink of choice for people with an alcohol problem. Sadly, not all listen. In For the homeless, those who gather in small groups on the

one hostel, six former

streets to drink, and in run down estates across England,

rough sleepers died in

super-strength lagers and ciders predominate.

just one year from the health problems created

Ranging between 7.5 and 10 per cent in strength, these

by these super-strength

cheap and deadly drinks are, according to our research,

drinks. Liver failure and

killing more homeless people than heroin or crack

brain damage have

cocaine.

become commonplace among England’s

REDUCING THE STRENGTH

homeless.

We were delighted when news emerged a couple of months ago that the police, councils and the NHS had

We have also witnessed the emergence of a new

teamed up in Ipswich to deliver a ‘Reducing the Strength’

group of middle aged people – the ‘young olds’ – who

campaign in a bid to target the sale of super-strength

have developed the health problems more commonly

ciders and lagers over 6.5% and look forward to other

association with people past retirement age. Poor

areas following suit.

mobility, memory loss and incontinence for someone in their thirties or forties is the daily reality. Of course we

Then, this week we saw another great step forward, when

understand that there is strong culture of beer and cider

the Home Office launched a ten-week consultation on

drinking in the UK and we also recognise that sections of

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FEATURES

the drinks industry promote responsible drinking.

sale will see drinkers switch to other products.

LEARNING RESPONSIBILITY

They are absolutely right. In our experience, when people

Heineken, to their great credit, stopped the production

switch from super-strength drinks to regular strength

of super-strength ciders the day after it visited a Thames

drinks, we have invariably seen an improvement in both

Reach hostel and saw for themselves the misery that

their health and behaviour.

these products caused. Super-strength lagers and ciders on sale at cheap prices Magners owner C&C have just announced a decision

is not the norm for most societies. It simply isn’t available

to drop Diamond White, K and White Star super-strength

for sale in countries such as Ireland or Australia. They’re

ciders from their drinks portfolio, quoting concerns at the

also fairly new - very few super-strength lagers and ciders

social impact of these drinks.

were produced before the 1980s and 1990s.

Sadly other companies are not so responsible, failing to

A GAME OF CONSEQUENCE

be embarrassed by having super-strength drinks in their

The impact on people’s life span and their health has

portfolio of products. A single can of these super-strength

been devastating in the relatively short period the super

lagers contains four and a half units of alcohol, in excess

strength drinks have been around.

of Government guidelines on daily consumption. Let’s not forget the social damage too – an increase in Elsewhere, wholesale companies flood inner city corner

domestic violence, anti-social behaviour and crime is all

stores and off licenses with super-strength ciders such as

too evident for those working with people with alcohol

White Ace. These come in three litre bottles, containing

problems.

a massive 22.5 units of alcohol for as little as £3.99, only 17p per unit and less than

So, let’s return for a moment to the three men on the

half of the Government’s

streets drinking their way into oblivion.

proposed minimum price of 45p per unit.

What do we need to do to tackle the deadly superstrength products like Skol Super which are blighting their

So who is regulating

lives and causing misery and distress amongst thousands

these wholesale

more across the country?

companies and where are their corporate social

The Governments should increase the tax on the most

responsibility policies?

harmful alcoholic products currently on sale in the UK, namely super-strength lagers and ciders, and a minimum

The Government recently

price of 45p a unit will have a huge impact.

added 25p to the price of a can of super-strength

The drinks industry and wholesale companies need

lager, a move which we

to regulate themselves more responsibly and stop

commended, as people’s

making super-strength drinks – and if they fail, should be

drinking habits are

regulated by others.

influenced by price. A big supermarket chain needs to stand up and end the However, the botched move to tax cider in the dying

stocking of super-strength lagers and ciders.

days of the last government, has left its own hangover, with super-strength cider remaining cheap and readily

These three key measures will be the first steps towards

available at corner stores and supermarkets.

ensuring future generations won’t end up in the gutter and back-up the message that there simply is no place

The minimum pricing proposals recently mooted by the

for super-strength ciders and lagers in society today.

Home Office need to be implemented. thamesreach.org.uk Cynics will argue that removing super-strength drinks from WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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ART IN THE COMMUNITY Laura McCullagh looks at two projects that have put the creative endeavours of homeless people right at the heart of the community. There are lots of inspiring and creative projects run by homelessness organisations around the country - and it’s been something of a privilege to have been able to support some of them through Get Creative: Arts for All. Some of the most exciting initiatives are those that have seen creative activity as an opportunity for community involvement and social inclusion, as well a chance to increase the confidence and skills of their participants. Many organisations have worked in partnership with their local communities, welcoming members of the public to get involved, and increasing people’s awareness of homelessness at the same time. and the local community with initial funding sourced They have encouraged mutual respect, empathy and

by Mirfield Community Partnership. The garden was

understanding amongst those involved and have

designed by environmental charity Groundwork,

left homeless participants feeling valued and more

and was cleared and replanted by a team including

confident to engage positively in their communities in the

local residents and clients from Stonham and mental

future.

health service Pathways. Throughout the project clients have been supported by Grace Landscapes to gain

Here are two projects that do just that, in very different

qualifications in horticulture, and one Stonham client has

ways.

now moved on to employment with the company.

THE GARDEN REGENERATION

Deborah Murphy, senior project worker for Stonham

Stonham, part of social housing provider Home Group,

Home Group, said: “It has also been fantastic to see

recently welcomed visitors to the newly-regenerated

the project forge links between local businesses and

sunken garden at Calder House in Newgate, Mirfield to

residents. We’ve had staff and clients from numerous

celebrate the achievements of the project team and

organisations get involved as well as other members

learn more about plans to open the garden to the public.

of the community, and without all their hard work the

The sunken garden, previously an overgrown piece of

regeneration could never have been achieved.”

land which had lain neglected for several years, is on the site of Stonham’s Calder House service which provides

People who took part have taken a great sense of

accommodation with support for vulnerable single adults

satisfaction from it too. Cameron said: ““The project has

who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

benefitted me immensely. I’d never done gardening before and now I’ve got a diploma in horticulture which

The regeneration is a collaboration between Stonham

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will give me the confidence to go out and try to get a


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

FEATURES

job. I’ve learnt how to use a lot of different tools, and it’s been great to be outside in the fresh air. It’s opened up a whole new world to me.” Once complete the garden will be open to the public as well as being used by Stonham clients for recreation.

CAFE ART Cafe Art has its roots in a St Mungo’s hostel at Argyle Walk, near Kings Cross, London. A volunteer there noticed that its art groups were producing amazing artworks every week - but there was limited scope for these works to be seen by the public. What better way to showcase the hidden talents of this often overlooked group than by exhibiting their work in Cafes in London?

To mark its first year, Cafe Art has published a calendar of artworks drawn by 12 artists affected by homelessness.

The Cafe owners get an ever-changing landscape of

Entitled the ‘ONE’ calendar, proceeds from sales will go

drawings for free, the public enjoys them while sipping

back into homeless arts projects throughout London.

their latte, and the homeless charity can disseminate the

Details of how you can purchase this calendar can be

issues of homelessness to a wider audience. Importantly,

found at www.cafeart.org.uk

the boost in self-confidence and self-esteem for all the participating artists is immeasurable, knowing that their work is now not restricted to the walls of the hostel art room, but out into the community to be celebrated and appreciated. Since launching end of April 2012, the project has grown from one single Cafe exhibiting artworks from one St Mungo’s hostel, to over 200 pieces of artworks in 20 London Cafes, all created by people affected by homelessness, from 10 different London homeless organisations. Within this short timescale, it has also held a pop-up homeless art exhibition at the world’s largest art auction house, Christie’s, and worked with Without Walls to create what could be London’s first ‘multi service provider’ art exhibition by people affected by homelessness held at the Guardian’s Head Offices.

ABOUT GET CREATIVE: ARTS FOR ALL Get Creative is a three year project run in partnership with Streetwise Opera to increase opportunities for homeless people to engage in the arts. We support homelessness organisations to build partnerships with local artists and arts organisations, sharing knowledge and good practice throughout the sector. Please get in touch if you would like support in setting up of your own arts projects or have examples of projects you’d like to share with others. laura.mccullagh@homelesslink.org.uk | www.homeless.org.uk/arts | twitter/arts_laura WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

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FEATURES

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

MANAGING PEOPLE

Dear Helen,

I’m afraid it’s true that as a result of the compulsory competitive tendering environment driving the price of support contracts ever downwards, the median market rate of pay for front-line staff has reduced to a level that is difficult to live on in many areas of the country. It’s also true that the wage doesn’t in any way reflect or reward the skilled and challenging work that our workers do with clients who have deep and complex support needs. However, I believe it’s still a really good career move for anyone who wants to do work that is truly meaningful and rewarding. Homelessness organisations offer supportive management and good training and on the job opportunities to develop a whole range of skills.

I left u niversit y this summe r. Whilst doing s ome bar work I have also be en volu nteering for a homele s sne ss agency a nd have love d every min ute of it. I’m really intere sted in tr ying to a pply for a n entry level post to do front-line work , but people ha ve told me tha t wage s are go ing down a nd I’d be m uch be tter looking fo r something bett er paid a nd w it h more prospect s, like going fo r a trainee ma nage r post wit h th e pu b chain tha t I’m working for. What do you thin k?

Progression from entry level to front-line and then to

working in the

specialised or junior management roles is much faster

sector means that people can and

and more merit-based and flexible than in many other

do move upwards or sideways to better paid jobs either

sectors.

within homelessness or allied fields when they feel they need to.

Individuals from all kinds of backgrounds are supported and encouraged to succeed – provided that they

According to recent research by the Hay Group,

demonstrate genuine commitment to developing their

whereas in the past the most significant single priority for

skills, working positively with others, and doing a great job

graduates in any job was pay prospects, this year only

for their clients.

8% selected pay as their priority. The top three wants from university leavers this year were (1) real opportunities

People who work in the sector, and particularly on the

to move up the career ladder (53%); (2) the ability to

front line, are incredibly motivated by the tremendous

make a difference (51%) and (3) the chance to use their

difference their support makes to people who have often

technical knowledge or expertise (45%). And all three of

fallen into a rock bottom place in their lives. Whereas

these exist in abundance in our sector.

various studies have indicated that in the UK workforce as a whole only about 35% of people feel fulfilled in their jobs, this rises to 75% in homelessness charities.Also, the opportunity to develop a whole host of transferable skills

46

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Helen Giles is HR Director of Broadway and Managing Director of Broadway’s Real People HR consultancy www.broadwaysrealpeople.com


CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

WHAT’S ON?

INSPIRED

UPCOMING TRAINING AND EVENTS FOR THE HOMELESSNESS SECTOR:

JANUARY 17

FREE ONLINE EVENT | ASK THE EXPERT Understanding Women’s Homelessness - Rebuilding Shattered Lives homeless.org.uk/web-women

22

FREE ONLINE EVENTS | EFFECTIVE ACTION Using the planning pathway to set up an activity homeless.org.uk/web-planning

29

FREE ONLINE EVENTS | EFFECTIVE ACTION Using the planning pathway to develop your programme of activities homeless.org.uk/web-planning

MARCH 21

MATIONAL CONFERENCE: WELFARE AWARE - UNDERSTANDING AND PREPARING FOR CHANGE Are you ready for the changes to benefits? Are you ready to help your clients prepare? This event will provide you with detailed advice on what the changes are, when they are occurring and how you can prepare your service and your clients for these changes. Tuesday 21 March 2013 | London homeless.org.uk/event_welfare_aware

STAY IN THE LOOP For up to date information on events and training, visit...

www.homeless.org.uk/conference-diary www.homeless.org.uk/training ...and subscribe to our regular member bulletins...

www.homeless.org.uk/keep-informed

WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

47


COMMENT

CONNECT DECEMBER 2012 | ISSUE 47

RESOURCES We’ve pulled together a list of resources and research related to the features in CONNECT 46. If you have any information you would like to share with our member organisations, please write to editor@homelesslink.org.uk.

HOMELESS LINK INFORMATION

ROUGH SLEEPING

Find us online

Streetlink

twitter.com/homelesslink

www.streetlink.org.uk

facebook.com/homelesslink homeless.org.uk/blog

Pathways to Housing www.pathwaystohousing.org

Take a Step - to help end rough sleeping Join our campaign - on our website or on

Rough Sleeping Portal

Facebook.

homeless.org.uk/roughsleepingportal

homeless.org.uk/take-a-step Statutory rough sleeping figures 2011 Effective Action

bit.ly/dclg-rs2011

Good practice guidance for local authorities and services homeless.org.uk/effective-action

CONTRIBUTOR LINKS

Homelessness Transition Fund Open to applications for Small Grants homeless.org.uk/fund

Georgina Cranston - georginacranston.com

Our policy work

SHP - www.shp.org.uk

Where to start looking for information on our policy Unheard Holler - unheardholler.blogspot.co.uk

campaigning and lobbying. homeless.org.uk/policy-team

Centrepoint - centrepoint.org.uk In the regions Meet your Homeless Link regional managers.

New Forest Nightstop - newforestnightstop.org.uk

homeless.org.uk/contact-regional-manager Real People - www.broadwaysrealpeople.com And your NAC representatives. homeless.org.uk/contact-nac

Thames Reach - www.thamesreach.org.uk

WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK 48

WWW.HOMELESS.ORG.UK

CONNECT 47 - Routes Inside  

ROUTES INSIDE? A 16 page special on some of the sector’s achievements on rough sleeping this year. WHERE NEXT? IN YOUR WORDS: This summer,...

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