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COMMUNITY HOUSING AID

2011-2012 ANNUAL REVIEW

CommunityHousing Aid

Read about what CHA have been up to over the last financial year as Exeter’s premier independent housing advice & support charity.


Another year goes by, seemingly quicker than ever. Putting together the annual report is always a good way to reflect on the challenges and successes of the previous 12 months, which there is rarely time to do. The last year has provided tangible evidence of the effects of recession, the impact of new Government policies regarding benefits & housing and the challenges for people on low incomes to secure and sustain safe, affordable tenancies. One constant throughout the last 12 months has been the commitment and dedication of our staff and volunteers. They have continued to provide support and assistance to our beneficiaries despite all of the challenges that the current financial climate presents; be it a lack of affordable properties, or uncertainty of funding for the projects they run. 2011 saw CHA celebrating its 21st birthday, and despite the current challenges within the housing sector, as you look through what each project has achieved, I am sure you will agree that our staff and volunteers have truly gone ‘above & beyond’ what could have been expected of them. For this they have my gratitude and admiration. With such energy, creativity and dedication, I believe Community Housing Aid will continue to make a tangible difference to the lives of people affected by homelessness for many more years to come.

Stuart Hooper

Director’s Note


Welfare reform, cuts in public expenditure on homelessness and housing support, and double dip recessions. All of these issues lead to an increase in the number of individuals and families needing support and advice to access and maintain a home of their own. It is against this pressurised back drop that Community Housing Aid works to empower individuals in need of housing to find their own solutions by working with them to remove the obstacles they face. We started the year with a mountain to climb. Our Nightstop Devon project, which provides a much-valued and much-used same day emergency accommodation service for young people, was under threat whilst we sought replacement funding for a Big Lottery grant that had come to an end. Fast forward to December 2011 and we see the Nightstop Devon team receiving one of The Guardian’s prestigious Charity of the Year Awards, with the project’s future secured for the next three years through the generous support of the Big Lottery and the Henry Smith Charity. It is this kind of roller-coaster ride that is characteristic of the voluntary sector, especially in these challenging economic times, where efficient, effective and respected projects recognised as providing a key role in society can be at risk of closure. It is a tribute to the staff involved that the uncertainty surrounding the project’s future did not impact on the quality of service they provided. The Guardian Award was a fitting and well-deserved recognition of all the Nightstop team, not least of whom are the volunteer hosts and drivers without whom the project would not exist. Our other projects may not have achieved the external recognition of a Guardian Award, but the work they have carried out during the year has been no less valuable in reducing and preventing homelessness in the community. They have continued to be well-used and to provide effective solutions to homelessness. Last year, we were disappointed to announce the closure of our Community Advice Service; this year we are pleased to announce the start of a new project, the Community Advice and Support Service, which provides advice and signposting for one day a week at Exeter Magistrates Court. Our Smartmove and Resettlement projects continue to be challenged by the reducing availability of affordable, appropriate, accommodation for the rising number of people trying to manage living on a low income. There is as yet no sign that the reduction in local housing allowance is exerting a downward pressure on rents in the private rented sector. Our immensely experienced and hard-working staff are skilful and creative in supporting people in housing need to resolve their housing issues successfully, but we are aware that we are ending the year with another mountain to climb – as a result cuts to public expenditure on housing related support, funding for our Smartmove project has been reduced. The need for our work in both tenancy creation and tenancy sustainment is very much alive, and we are focusing on how we may best ensure that we can continue to provide this for the community. One Trustee left during the year, Paul Jones, whose valuable contributions to CHA will be missed, including the ability to


summarise concisely and move through an agenda swiftly! We have been delighted to welcome Derek Gifford to our Board of Trustees. Derek was formally co-opted in March, after attending a few meetings as an observer. As ever, we are continuing to seek additional Trustees to augment the expertise and experience that we already have. The Trustees would like to thank our very loyal and hardworking staff and volunteers for their continued commitment and loyalty throughout the year. On behalf of the Board, I would like to pay tribute to Ralph Hayward, who has so ably chaired CHA over the last 3 years. Ralph took the decision to step down as Chair in November 2011, although we are delighted that we continue to retain his knowledge and expertise as a Trustee. I would also like to thank my colleague Trustees who continue to work exceptionally hard for CHA, and for their support to me in my new role as Chair. Lorna Fielker

Chair of Trustee’s Note


653 Referrals 400+ bednights provided 150 young people supported with their housing, welfare and benefits

Nightstop Devon


Given the current economic situation we expected another busy year for Nightstop Devon, and that's how it turned out! Our volunteer hosts continued to provide an amazing and much-needed service to homeless 16-25 year olds, providing them with a bed for the night, food and a listening ear. The good news is that our future was now looks a lot more secure after a successful application for a Big Lottery Reaching Communities Grant. We supported over 150 young people and processed 653 referrals over the year. Our hosts provided over 400 bednights to young people who would otherwise be facing a night on the street or staying in unsafe or unsuitable accommodation. The majority of people referred to us were 21 or under and as usual the main cause of homelessness was family breakdown. Recent cuts to welfare and homelessness services in Devon have had an impact on the service. We are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable housing for our service users to move onto. This has led to people staying for longer periods on Nightstop. We have tried to find different solutions to this, including developing a mediation service with Devon Mediation. The aim of the mediation is to help young people and families improve the relationships and to open up the possibility of them moving back home. We have also looked to expand our Crashpad project. Crashpad is a longer-term version of Nightstop, with young people staying for two week blocks with hosts, to give them more time to find somewhere permanent. We were delighted to win the Guardian Charity of the Year Award in December 2011. The fact that Nightstop Devon was picked from nearly 1000 entrants is testament to the great work our volunteers do and recognition of everyone who has ever stayed on Nightstop. Young people get a lot of negative press, but the success of our scheme, and the fact that in over 11 years we have never had any serious incidents, shows that if you give someone a chance and show them some trust, then it will be repaid.

“ The help I got from Nightstop was fantastic. Nightstop hosts gave me a warm safe bed and a cooked meal. I met some fantastic people who were all caring, friendly and willing to help! I wouldn't be in my new home now if it wasn't for them.�


ÂŁ36,836 Total bond value that has been issued in the last year 149 Households supported to find long- term accommodation. 100 landlord and letting agents that we work with across Devon

Devon Smartmove


Devon SmartMove is a private rental access scheme. We continue to work with vulnerable families and individuals who wish to secure affordable, sustainable, privately rented accommodation across Devon. Over the 12 years that Devon SmartMove has been in business we have developed a range of services to help us achieve this sometimes challenging task. Devon SmartMove has accommodated in excess of 1,000 households over the last five years. We work with over 100 landlords and letting agents across Devon. In the last 12 months we have issued bonds totalling £36,836. 149 households – families, couples and single people – have found long term, sustainable accommodation through our efforts and those of the agencies we work with. Devon SmartMove’s work in East Devon is funded by East Devon District Council; in Mid Devon by Mid Devon District Council, and in Exeter by the John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust. This year Devon SmartMove would like to thank all those agencies, individuals, landlords and agents who have made another successful year. This year we would like to particularly thank Life, Catholic Children’s Society and the Royal British Legion for their enduring and significant support.

" I have to say without SmartMove's help I really don't know how I would have ended up!" "You do an amazing job. We wouldn't be where we are now, settled and enjoying our fresh start in our new home if it wasn't for you." " They were very professional and made me feel like a human..."


Devon SmartMove now delivers a range of housing and tenancy related training and landlord forums


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NIGHTSTOP DEVON

OCTOBER 2011 CELEBRATES 10 YEARS THROUGH A SELL OUT CREATIVE YOUTH PRODUCTION CALLED TOLD:RETOLD AT THE BIKESHED THEATRE


NIGHTSTOP DEVON

DECEMBER 2011 WINS GUARDIAN CHARITY

OF THE YEAR

Dedicated to the amazing work our volunteers have done over the last 10 years


8TH JULY 2011

RENTSHIELD DIRECT NIGHTSTOP TEIGNMOUTH BASED CORPORATE SPONSOR

Staff braved a cold night under the stars to raise money for Nightstop Devon


RESETTLEMENT

MENTAL HEALTH AND SOME OF THE LONGER TERM CHALLENGES

Some of the reciprocal issues related to mental health deterioration and housing related problems


126 New Clients 55 Accommodated, through the private rented sector, supported housing or other agencies. 27 Accommodation and tenancy secured 44 supported with Debt and benefits

Resettlement Devon


It is well documented that mental health can affect anyone, rich or poor, young or old; and one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. The effects of mental health problems on both the individual and their family and loved ones can be hugely distressing and for many, the stigma associated with mental health continues to be as challenging as the symptoms of the illness itself. It is clear that these issues have a negative impact on housing, be it in sustaining an existing tenancy, or accessing suitable, affordable accommodation. Through our Resettlement service, we aim to address this for clients referred by Devon Partnership NHS Trust. Of the 126 individuals we supported over these 12 months, over a third were assisted to maintain their tenancy. The main support needs were affordability; help with debt management; and complying with tenancy agreements. Often this latter issue is resolved with mediation between landlords and client whilst also ensuring the right type of support is available to the client. One longer term benefit of this intervention is the peace of mind that their tenancy is safe and secure to return to following any future admissions to hospital. Access to support and services in the community is an important aspect of any person’s wellbeing. We strive to ensure that clients are able to access accommodation where existing support structures exist, or new ones can be implemented. Having your own home, whether it is supported accommodation, a furnished room or a house is the cornerstone of an individual’s independence. When a person has a decent, safe, and affordable home, he or she has the opportunity to become part of the community. With stable, appropriate housing, people with mental illnesses are able to achieve other important life goals including improved health, education, job training, and employment for the individual’s future well being. Affordability has become an even bigger issue for many people during the past year, and our links with o,ther services have been widely called upon to help clients deal with wide ranging financial problems.


147 Referrals 86 successfully accommodated 61 given advice on tenancy maintenance, housing options or signposted to relevant agencies.

Accommodation Gateway


The Accommodation Gateway Service provides advice and support to offenders to enable them to secure suitable, affordable accommodation, and is funded by Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust. We aim to achieve this in a number of ways; be it supporting clients into supported accommodation, maintaining existing accommodation or accessing the private rented sector. For some, we also have access to tenancy related support; helping them meet the challenges that a new tenancy brings. In the last year the Accommodation Gateway Service received 147 referrals. 86 were successfully accommodated, the remainder were given advice on tenancy maintenance, housing options or signposted to relevant agencies. As with all services supporting offenders, one of our main aims is to support a reduction in re-offending. Accommodation is a key factor in achieving this; providing stability and a foundation to enable an individual to make the relevant changes in their life and contribute as a member of society. Community Housing Aid is committed to trying to address accommodation issues and will strive to continue to provide solutions to individual’s issues. In addition to the Accommodation Gateway, we have recently started an advice desk at Exeter Magistrates Court. With the help of volunteers we aim to provide open, non-judgemental advice and support to first time offenders. We hope that by enabling them to access the support they need, some of the issues that have contributed to their criminality will be addressed, such as poor or unaffordable housing, domestic violence, substance misuse and debt. The Community Advice Support Service (or CASS) Desk is open every Tuesday at Exeter Magistrates Court.


Finance Report


Our income increased by £14,000, through successfully achieving continuation funding for Nightstop through the generous support of the Big Lottery and the Henry Smith Charity, and through the award of a one-off contract to increase the landlord base for Smartmove. We again made a small surplus, but the split of our funding remains 60:40 between contracts and grants, and we continue to work to strengthen our financial resilience in what are challenging and competitive times. The charts to the left illustrate our income and expenditure for the financial year April 2011 – March 2012. For more detailed information the full audited annual accounts and the Trustees’ annual report can be consulted; copies can be obtained from The Director, Community Housing Aid, McCoys Arcade, Fore Street, Exeter, EX4 3AN. The Independent Auditors’ Report concluded that the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the company’s affairs as at 31st March 2012 and of its incoming resources and application of resources. The financial statements have been properly prepared in accordance with the Companies Act 1985 and the information given in the Trustees’ Report is consistent with the financial statements.


29th May 1961 Charitable Trust Awards for All BBC Children in Need Big Lottery Fund L Browne Miss Sonia Marie Chapman Children & Young People Service Co-operative Community Investment Fund J Collins Coutts Charitable Trust Devon & Cornwall Probation Trust Devon Partnership NHS Trust East Devon District Council East Devon District Councillors Exeter Cathedral Exeter City Council Exmouth Spirtual Circle of Light John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust C A Glanville Guardian News & Media Ltd Mrs G Haslam Albert Hunt Trust S Inglis Miss P M Jackson The Jamieson Bystock Trust P Johnstone

Anton Jurgens Charitable Trust The Leonard Laity Stoate Charitable Trust Lions Club Lloyds TSB Foundation Mr G & Mrs V Maguire Mr B A & Mrs M P Messer Mid Devon District Council A F Milton Gweneth Moxon Charitable Trust Musbury PCC Freewill Offering The Norman Family Trust Northcott Devon Foundation Pennon Group Plymouth City Council Rentshield Direct The Sidbury Trust Henry Smith Charity Mrs D E Smykulis Steel Charitable Trust W O Street Charitable Foundation The Bernard Sunley Charitable Trust Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust Mr Tomkins The Tudor Trust C Wale Wonford House


Community Housing Aid McCoys Arcade Fore St Exeter EX4 3AN t: 01392 430228 w: www.communityha.org.uk

Registered Charity No.1071945 Limited Company No. 3635743 Registered in England and Wales

CommunityHousing Aid working to prevent homelessness across Devon


CHA Annual Review 2011-2012