The poverty issue
Welcome to Issue 26 of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers anti-poverty newsletter, shining a light on the work we do to help reduce poverty and some of the projects and communities we work with. Our cover picture celebrates Motiv8’s 5,000th referral to the programme, more on page 3. In this issue we have contributions from;
Bolton at Home
Southway Housing Trust
Mosscare St Vincent’s
Wythenshawe Community Housing
University of Salford
Since our last issue… April to September 2019 was found to be one of the busiest half-year periods for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s North West network since the charity was founded in 1997. This is a 23 per cent increase on the same period in 2018 – the sharpest rate of increase the charity has seen for the past five years. As colleagues will no doubt already know, the main reasons for people needing emergency food aid are low benefit income and delays or changes to benefits paid.
Their State of Hunger report shows there are three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health or challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.
To help reduce food poverty the Stockport Homes Pantry project goes from strength to strength and in this issue they report on the opening of their fifth Your Local Pantry. We also have stories from Onward and Wythenshawe Community Housing on a slightly different approach to reducing food poverty in partnership with the Bread and Butter Thing. Many of us are right in the middle of an extra push for food and toy collections so that we can support struggling families over Christmas. A big shout out should also go to the many, many community volunteers and partners who support our anti-poverty work all year round. Thank you to our contributors for sharing your stories. Our next issue is due out in Spring. As usual you are very welcome to send your feedback or suggestions for the next issue to Julie.Ralph@boltonathome.org.uk
You can find out more about the work of Greater Manchester Housing Providers by following them on Twitter @GMHousing Or visit the website for the latest news www.gmhousing.co.uk
ATHENA MOTIV8 PROGRAMME
Get back on track with Motiv8 Motiv8 is a Greater Manchester programme to help unemployed people aged 25 and over. It supports some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society to overcome a wide variety of complex issues and barriers to improve their lives and help move them closer to work. Motiv8 is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund. It is a voluntary programme and participation can help to improve people’s health and wellbeing, self-confidence, self-esteem and other crucial employability skills to improve their chances of accessing training or finding a job.
Cheryl’s story “Before I began working with Motiv8 I was really down. I’d been struggling with depression for over 9 years. I have two children and had moved back in with my mum as the relationship with my son’s father had broken down, but we had a massive row and I ended up homeless and then placed in a temporary hostel. During this time I was very closed off from the world, struggling with my mental health and had been self-harming. My priority was looking after others, not myself. I was stuck in a rut and needed help. Since joining the Motiv8 programme it’s been a whirlwind! I’ve had help from their specialist partner at Shelter and am now on the waiting list with Manchester Move. I also got great help with my CV and job-searching. In fact I was soon getting interviews and I was directed to Smart Works www.smartworks.org.uk/ manchester-smart-works/ where I received some interview outfits and 3 3
ATHENA MOTIV8 PROGRAMME really helpful practical tips to boost my confidence. The great news is that I’ve now got a job as a catering assistant at a local secondary school. I’ve always wanted to work in a school, and as this is part-time/term-time it will be great to fit in with the kids. Now I feel normal. That’s all I wanted. I used to feel numb and would sometimes google ‘happiness’. Now I feel happiness. This is my normal.” You can view Cheryl’s video story and other success stories at www.motiv8mcr.org/successstories
Our 5000th referral! Motiv8 recently received its 5,000th referral to the programme. We would like to say a big thank you to our Single Point of Access team who process all enquiries and referrals, our funders at The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund and to all of our stakeholders across Greater Manchester who refer to people to our programme. Keep them coming! Want to find out more about Motiv8? Further information about Motiv8 and the eligibility criteria for the programme, can be found at www.motiv8mcr.org or call 0161 331 2048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Jigsaw Support, part of Jigsaw Group, is leading the Motiv8 programme in partnership with other Manchester Athena housing providers at Stockport Homes, ForHousing, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Bolton at Home.
BOLTON AT HOME Foundation for the Future Thanks to funding from our new Foundation for the Future partnership, we're able to offer volunteering opportunities abroad working alongside charities FAST Romania or Otalom (Heated Streets) in Hungary and opportunities in Slovenia with ZNI available exclusively for those over 45.
The partnership forms part of our drive to help boost the CVs and employability of local people whilst investing in our communities. The aims of the foundation are twofold To provide people from our communities and our organisations with the opportunity to experience working abroad (minimum 2 weeks) whilst also obtaining an internationally recognised qualification (Europass certificate). To support our partner European charities in their work with the Roma Community, the homeless and the vulnerable, and support to increase the skills, self-reliance and employment opportunities of these communities. The following organisations currently help to fund Foundation for the Future and its projects: Bolton at Home, Salix Homes, Mosscare St Vincent's, Accord, Poplar Harca, Urban Outreach, Bolton College, Bolton CVS, and Seddon’s Construction. During the last seven years over 150 people have benefitted from this opportunity, including our Marketing and Communications Apprentice, Jamie Moore. Jamie was one of a team who helped rebuild homes that were destroyed by flooding in the Roma village of Zizin. You can read more about the Foundation and Jamie’s trip here.
BOLTON AT HOME Social Value Last month Bolton at Home hosted an event to report on our social value impact. Social value is defined as the positive changes people experience in their lives due to the actions of an organisation or business. It includes the community benefits provided by an organisation’s purchasing policies, for example by working with suppliers that offer apprenticeship opportunities and pay staff fairly.
Among the social value benefits provided by us are: 317 tenants and residents supported into employment 53 apprenticeships Over £25m spent in Bolton over the last year supporting the local economy Over £5 million in grants and other benefits gained for tenants and residents £4 million spent on supporting voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations £428,000 inward investment grants secured for VCSE partners 100% of staff paid at least the ‘Real Living Wage’ 254 work experience placements for people Over 63,000 volunteer hours delivered by staff, tenants and residents 92% of business waste recycled 165 homes let to people who were previously homeless.
Jon Lord, our chief executive, said: “We do social good by working in various ways that can make a difference to people’s lives. It’s about supporting individuals and communities all year-round, both directly and indirectly. I’m delighted we could help 895 tenants and residents towards employment overall and support 209 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. Highlighting such activities helps people to know some of the different ways we can support them as well as providing affordable homes.” The event was held at the Green Café within our Valley House head office and was attended by local business partners, voluntary organisations, social enterprises, and tenant representatives. We reported on social value benefits provided between April 2018 and March 2019. Our social value goals include promoting employment, raising living standards, promoting participation and citizen engagement, supporting the voluntary sector, and promoting equity, fairness and sustainability.
FORHOUSING Heads together for homelessness Everybody deserves a safe and stable home. ForHousing are passionate about supporting people to find a secure place to live, because we know that homes are the first building block on the journey to a better life. In September, ForHousing invited tenants, partners and staff to attend our first Heads Together for Homelessness event in our head office in Eccles, Salford.
Hosted by ForViva Group Chief Executive, Colette McKune, the session gave an opportunity for all involved to work collaboratively and contribute innovative ideas to try put a stop to the amount of vulnerable people who are rough sleeping all over the country. Guest speaker, Dr Steve Harding from Crisis Skylight Merseyside, kick started the event, delivering a thought provoking talk on the current poverty situation. Throughout the talk, he shared current statistics on homelessness as well as alarming future statistics that could happen if we all do not take action together. One of our tenants, Adam pictured above, also spoke at the event, as well as taking part in the activities . After rough sleeping under a motorway flyover for seven months, Adam engaged with ForHousing’s Outreach Team and has now become ForHousing’s very first Housing First tenant. Sharing his compelling story with the room, he was interviewed by Granada Reports Lucy Meacock. When asked what he would say to someone currently experiencing homelessness, Adam stated: “My advice to them is engage. The process is the process, it takes as long as it takes, but you have to engage. Talk to somebody, the services are out there and they will point you in the right direction.”
FORHOUSING As well as gaining a safe home of his own, Adam is also part of ForHousing’s peer mentoring programme and now feels ready to look for work and is still engaging with the services. In between the key guest speakers, participants got involved in interactive workshops designed to inspire them to create solutions on how to prevent homelessness and how to better engage with vulnerable people. We heard some great ideas around further educating people on the issue of homelessness, developing new programmes to recognise early warning signs and setting up a multi-agency portal with partners to prevent homelessness before it’s too late. ForHousing CEO, Henry Terefenko, said “We want to help the people who can’t help themselves. That’s what Housing Associations were set up to do.”
The Heads Together for Homelessness event ended with a heart-warming performance from the Liverpool-based Choir With No Name – a charity who runs choirs for people who are or who have experienced homelessness and individuals who are in some way marginalised or socially isolated. We want to keep driving real change, and we know that together working, with care, and maintaining a person centred approach is crucial to ending homelessness for good. £4.5k per year additional income When a Macmillan Navigator contacted ForHousing about repairs that were required to a property where one their patients were living, they probably didn’t think that the patient would end up £4.5k per year better off. Through previous working the Macmillan service already had a contact in ForHousing’s Tenancy Sustainability Service (TSS) and so contacted them to ask about a repair. The TSS officer didn’t just refer the Macmillan Navigator to the Service Centre but instead went round to the property to speak to the tenant to see if there was anything they could do, and there was. After arranging for the repairs to be completed the TSS officer assessed the tenant’s income and found that they may be entitled to receive Attendance Allowance, and following the TSS officer supporting the tenant with the application a successful award of £87.65 per week (£4,557 per year) was awarded to the tenant. As the Attendance allowance has now been awarded an application to Pension Credits has now also been completed for an increase on the current rate due to the Attendance Allowance award. 8 8
JIGSAW HOMES Working with the residents of Miles Platting Jigsaw Homes continue to support the low cost food initiative facilitated by volunteers in the Miles Platting neighbourhood. Over the last quarter there have been 2 new volunteers, 48 members attending and a health check service for residents. The grocer project isnâ€™t just about providing food and many local partners attend to share advice on their services. Within the last quarter the grocer has included drop ins for residents from the: Alzheimerâ€™s Society, Jigsaw Neighbourhood Safety Office with PC; National Mental Health Day; Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield University; Jo Trust Cervical Cancer and MCR Active. Forthcoming drop-ins are planned for Citizens Advice in partnership with Jigsaw Homes money welfare advisor to discuss money advice with residents and a marketing campaign on loan shark awareness. Over the October half term the Holiday Fun and Food project, pictured left, provided 40 children with a breakfast, activities and physical activities games as well as a trip away to Blackpool.
Miles Platting Savers is a resident cooperative saving scheme which we support with promotion â€“ they have had 2 meetings with 15 regular members in the last quarter, helping to encourage residents to save regularly. The neighbourhood engagement team worked with the supported housing team to support the launch of a new service in Wigan for homeless people by funding welcome packs made up of household items. The residents will have a short term tenancy with floating support and will receive a welcome pack to give them a head start whilst they settle in. The majority of these residents will be on Universal Credit or other benefits and will have little funds when they start their tenancy so it is hoped that these welcome packs will alleviate the pressure of initially buying household items, whilst teaching life skills in order to sustain their tenancy and hopefully move on to a long term tenancy in the future. 9 9
JIGSAW HOMES Jigsaw Homes winter warmer event In Oct 2019 the Neighbourhood Engagement team at Jigsaw Homes held a winter warmer event for residents at Gorton Community Centre. The aim was to get residents together for hot food and music with a verity of stalls on-hand to promote safety throughout the winter months. With increased social isolation and more demand for warmth in the home, Winter can be a difficult time for older people. The event was geared towards providing support and knowledge for safety throughout winter. Jamie Bell and John McGlynn from the Neighbourhood Engagement Team provided a winter warmer goody bag with gloves, a hat and hot chocolate. Residents were able to discuss fire safety with Greater Manchester Fire Service, energy advice &winter warmer strategies with Groundworks and free health checks from the NHS. Gorton Community Grocers were also on hand to promote their Friday morning grocers at the community centre.
Jigsaw Homes employ an Early Intervention Officer Jigsaw Homes have employed an Early Intervention Officer to within the Revenues team who has responsibility for checking affordability with new tenants and ensuring they have received the right benefit advice. This assessment and a follow up 6 week call made for all tenants in receipt of benefits. This is a proactive approach to ensuring new tenants understand the cost implications of running a home and that they are fully prepared to make their tenancy a success. Cook and eat Audenshaw Worked with sheltered scheme in Audenshaw to help families learn to cook on a budget. This also helped to combat social isolation and for them to gain new skills for education and employability. Donkey sanctuary Audenshaw Funded and organised an educational trip to the local donkey sanctuary for the sheltered scheme in the area. This helped to tackle social isolation and hardship in the school holidays as well as skills and education around care for animals and the environment. This also opened up possible volunteering opportunities for future employment. 10 10
JIGSAW HOMES Jigsaw Hardship We acknowledge that welfare reform, universal credit, the bedroom tax and mounting cuts have made it extremely difficult for some of our residents and we have a hardship fund in place to assist them with these difficulties. Out of the £50’000.00 which is available residents can apply for up to a maximum of £500 . Applications will be considered from individuals who are in immediate and significant hardship or are at serious risk of becoming in significant financial hardship. Applications for the Hardship Fund can be made by the individual, Jigsaw Group staff or a partner agency and can be made under the following conditions: Where severe Benefit sanctions have resulted in financial difficulties stopping the resident replacing essential household items such as washing or cooking facilities. Where the applicant is unable to work due to a serious/terminal illness which has resulted in financial difficulties Public transport costs to enable continuation of work To prevent a debt arising i.e. shopping vouchers to buy food, clothing vouchers for children, furniture costs to furnish a home. We have approved 33 applications in the first quarter. Here are some quotes from our residents who have been assisted by the fund. “This fund has helped us hugely, we are no longer sleeping on the floor.” “This has been a particularly difficult period ….I must admit that I was beginning to spiral into depression but this flooring has made all the difference and really lifted my spirits. You have my eternal gratitude!” “I am so pleased with my washing machine, I didn’t think I would get any help from anyone let alone a member of staff call me to discuss what options would best meet my needs. “ “Having an oven & grill will change my life, I have only been able to warm soup and prepacked meals so having a cooker will benefit my health . Thanks to you all so much you really have changed my life.” Neighbourhood Engagement support 25 residents into work Since April 2019 the Ashton-under-Lyne work club has helped to support 25 unemployed residents, who were claiming out of work benefits, secure paid employment. This was achieved by the Neighbourhood Engagement team working in partnership with Tameside MBC Adult Education, where the work club is located every Tuesday and Friday morning from 10am-12pm. The majority of attendees are referred from Job Centre Plus because they are struggling to find work for a variety of reasons and need access to computers to complete job seeking activities on-line, update CVs and get the opportunity to meet and support other people who are in similar circumstances, contributing to an improved sense of wellbeing. Job seeking can be a lonely and often challenging time for many people and the work club offers a safe and supportive place to get back on track. Our Work Clubs in Tameside have been running for eight years and there is still a need to offer this type of support, especially as many job seekers migrate over to Universal Credit and struggle to use technology as a method of communication. We have an average of 30 residents attending the work clubs each week with 50% of those securing paid employment being Jigsaw Homes tenants. 11 11
MOSSCARE ST VINCENT’S The changing face of sheltered housing Traditionally we have seen sheltered housing as being the next step for older people downsizing to a more manageable property and lifestyle, or moving to be part of a new community with more security after a loved-one has died. But more and more MSV is seeing older people who are either threatened with homelessness or, like Frank, actually living on the streets.
Frank, pictured above, suffered a nervous breakdown after the death of his mother, for whom he had been the long term carer. He lost his home and, because he was feeling so poorly and isolated, he didn’t really know what to do. Ultimately, after months of not coping he ended up living on the streets in the town centre of Rochdale. He eventually heard about Khubsuret House, MSV’s multi-cultural sheltered scheme, from one of the local shopkeepers in the area, and popped in to speak to Salma the scheme manager at Khubsuret House. Luckily there was a vacancy and Frank moved in straight away. Salma, pictured above, has been supporting Frank, helping him access counselling for his mental wellbeing, and benefits he never thought he would be entitled to. He is doing well, he’s engaging with other residents and making new friends and his mental wellbeing has improved dramatically. Another resident, Paul, had a complete breakdown and turned his back on his life in Liverpool. He moved to Manchester and with nowhere to go ended up sleeping rough in the city centre. His months on the street were frightening and sometimes violent. He found out about Cardinal Court, an MSV sheltered scheme in Moss Side and now, with the help of Marie, the scheme Manager, has found a place he can call home. He’s received a lot of support to help him cope with his issues and is doing well. He’s volunteering at a local project in the kitchens and is getting his life back on track. The changing face of sheltered housing shows that there are many ways that this type of housing and support can benefit individuals and their background circumstances can be very different than the tradition routes to living in sheltered housing. 12 12
NORTHWARDS HOUSING Northwards pilot scheme with AO Despite media coverage of poverty and disadvantage, the stories of foodbanks and homelessness, it’s often a first-hand account which truly brings home the reality. For over five years, online retailer AO has shared a connection with the OnSide Youth Zones charity, which provides a network of youth centres around the UK, via its Founder and CEO, John Roberts who also chairs OnSide. Many of the young people who use the Youth Zones come from families where even the most basic essentials of life cannot be taken for granted. But when John struck up a conversation with an 11year-old girl at one of the centres it would prove to be a wake-up call. The girl told John she had been having a tough time at school. She was being teased by other pupils for not having a clean school uniform. Her family’s washing machine had broken and they didn’t have the cash to fix it or buy a new one. These are the kind of stories which frontline staff working for housing associations hear every day. They understand that one family’s minor inconvenience can be a disaster for another. As the founder of online electricals retailer AO, John quickly realised we were in a position to do something. So we began a conversation about how we might work with housing associations to address some of the challenges tenants were facing. That’s now led to a pilot initiative called AO Rental giving access to a low-cost rental option for white goods. From £2 per week, a new washing machine can be rented, rather than bought, from us. There’s no upfront payment, no credit check and no unexpected costs. The aim is to give people another option when they can’t afford to buy an appliance outright. Accessing the cash or credit needed to do this can often be out of reach for many families, and in the worst cases people can end up in the clutches of unscrupulous doorstep lenders. With recent Affordable Housing Commission research suggesting nearly five million UK households face ‘grave’ affordability problems, there’s huge potential for a scheme like this to make a difference. To succeed, we’ll need to develop a genuine partnership between AO, housing associations and their tenants. With the pilot schemes, we’re trying to find the best way to do things and to identify and iron out any challenges. We’ve recently partnered with Northwards Housing in North Manchester to pilot a scheme for their tenants which is in its early days. Our Rental proposition is proving to be a popular choice with Housing Associations and we look forward to grow our partnerships further. 13 13
ONWARD HOMES It’s a Bread & Butter Thing Just over a year ago we launched our first session with The Bread and Butter Thing at our hub in Hattersley, providing local residents with groceries at a fraction of high street prices. The Manchester-based charity arranges a weekly grocery drop-off in the community. They collect food from FareShare on the morning of the drop, then when it arrives at the Hub volunteers bag the goods up for distribution the same day.
There are currently over 140 members registered on the scheme and, while it works on a ‘first come, first served’ system, members who miss out one week are given extra time to respond the next. All they have to do is register their interest through text and they receive confirmation of their order a few days before delivery. Onward’s Social Investment Team has supported the service by negotiating space in the local library, providing support, advice and refreshments to the volunteers and signposting our customers to the service. With six volunteers initially working on the project, this has grown to 16 regulars and another 10 ad hoc. The orders typically include a bag for cupboard goods, a bag for fruit & veg and a bag for refrigerated products. Priced at £3.50 for a single person, £7 for a small family and £14 for a large family, the orders offer a massive discount on quality food and prevent excessive food waste. Any left-over bags or excess food is donated to Spotlight Homeless Shelter and the local food bank to ensure they don’t get wasted. However, feedback from service users and volunteers suggested a lot of food was still being wasted as they didn’t know how to prepare some ingredients. The team commissioned Cracking Good Food to hold weekly sessions using ingredients from the bags to show customers and residents how to prepare basic meals and grow their culinary skills. There have also been several other services that have linked in with Bread and Butter to provide support and advice over the last year, such as British Gas, which gave tips on how to reduce energy bills. The Bread and Butter Thing currently only delivers to the Hub in Tameside but is in talks with Tameside Council to find funding for a van to cover the area. The service differs slightly from a community pantry/grocer/store, which typically has a set venue with storage facilities and so offers a good model for communities wanting a pantrytype offering but lacking a fixed store premises. 14 14
REGENDA Local Lives The Local Lives Project was great way to creatively engage community members who felt like they were socially isolated or lonely. We aimed to engage many different people and we did, we need to understand anyone can feel lonely – young, elderly or families, so opening this project up to a variety of people was important to us.
In partnership with Oldham Coliseum Theatre, TOG Mind, Action Together, Oasis Academy, NHS - Focus Care Practitioner, Housing 21, Hathershaw Women’s Chai Project, Age UK and Residents across Hollinwood the Local Lives project was initiated to identify people living in the Hollinwood area feeling socially isolated or lonely. Working with the variety of partners in Hollinwood they were able to identify and refer into the project, the Oldham Coliseum ran creative sessions exploring the local area with people from a range of different settings, ages and backgrounds to develop insights into how people view and envisage the themes of community and togetherness. The Local Lives performance was created from the conversations that took place; the memories, stories and thoughts generated within each workshop. Every word of the short play was spoken or had been developed by people living in Hollinwood. The story highlighted the importance of everyday conversations, social interactions with different people from our community and a good cup of tea. The Local Lives event is intended to act as a catalyst in referring people to other relevant services, launch legacy projects, share learning and importantly, bring people together. We will continue to work with the groups and people involved as part of the Thriving Hollinwood Initiative to ensure carry on for the project and lead people into other activities happening in their local neighbourhood. Mr Butler one of our participants said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the sessions held and it has got me out of the house again. I particularly enjoyed talking about the good old days and meeting likeminded people to share these happy thoughts with.’ 15 15
REGENDA Ways2Wages September 2019 saw the re-launch of the Ways2Wages service in the GM & Cheshire area. We came together with our key partners Get Oldham Working and Onward Homes to support a drop in centred around the community of Hollinwood to ensure local people could access the correct services helping them into training and employment opportunities.
To date we have had 26 positive interactions at the weekly drop in providing advice and support for people wanting to access and training. We hope to achieve some fantastic outcomes in the upcoming months linking people into the services they need. We are looking to hold a variety of courses from digital inclusion and safety to Level 1 IT skills and may more courses. Working in partnership is key; we must ensure the services are all sending out the same message across Oldham about getting back into work and giving local people the opportunities and support to do this. Through Ways2Wages we are creating a pathway for people to access the right services giving them a higher chance at training for the right career, creating a more long term and sustainable outcome.
SALIX HOMES Salix homes transforms derelict building into much-needed social housing A former women’s hostel has officially opened its doors after being transformed into much-needed social housing.
Joan Lestor House, on Ellesmere Street, Walkden, had stood empty for five years becoming a target for anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Salix Homes bought the derelict site in 2017 and has now transformed it into nine contemporary, one and two bedroom apartments for social housing rent. Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett cut the ribbon alongside Salix Homes chief executive Lee Sugden and the new residents to mark the official launch of the refurbished social housing development. Mayor Dennett said: “Joan Lestor House has a longstanding history of catering for those in need within our city and it’s fantastic to see the building now renovated, brought back into use and fit for purpose as social housing. Social housing is hugely undersupplied in the modern British housing market, and is a vital service both in maintaining standards in rented accommodation, whilst providing a roof over people’s heads that they can afford. Many thanks to Salix Homes, but also to Homes England and Emmanuel Whittaker for delivering on this fantastic project, which will support residents in the city as we work together in tackling the housing crisis.” Joan Lestor House, named after the Labour MP Baroness Lestor of Eccles, was built in 1999 17 17
SALIX HOMES and provided a refuge for homeless, vulnerable women until it closed down in 2013 amid funding cuts. Among the first residents to move in are Latifa and Jamal Mkali with their two children, aged one and four. Latifa said: “Previously, my family and I were living in a onebedroom flat on the 12th floor of a tower block. Having two young children meant the trip up and down the building with both children and a pram could be quite stressful. When we first saw our new apartment we said ‘wow’. Being on a lower level has made our trips in and out so much easier. Plus, having the extra bedroom has given us some much-needed space for storage and for the children to enjoy. We’re so happy to be able to make a home at Joan Lestor House and we look forward to our future here.” Lee Sugden, chief executive at Salix Homes, added: “With the lack of social housing being a prominent issue across the whole of the UK, we’re very proud to officially open our fantastic new social housing development, which is providing nine, modern new homes for people in housing need, like Latifa and her family. With 6,000 people on the housing register in Salford alone, not only have we provided a roof over the head of those that need it most, but we’ve also given a new lease of life to this once-abandoned building, which had become a real blight in the community. Salix Homes is passionate about delivering more social housing in Salford to help tackle the housing crisis, so the official opening of Joan Lestor House marks a very proud moment for us and we hope the residents will be very happy in their new homes.”
Salix homes recycling scheme diverts 200 items from landfill to families in need Salix Homes has launched a new scheme to recycle unwanted furniture that has been donated or left behind when tenants move out and given to residents who need it most. Since the scheme launched this summer, more than 200 items of furniture including sofas, wardrobes, beds, white goods, and even smaller items like ornaments and mirrors, have been diverted away from landfill sites. Maria Lester, environmental services manager at Salix Homes, said: “Furnishing a home from scratch can be very expensive and some of our tenants aren’t in the position to buy everything new. Thanks to this scheme, people who are struggling can come down to our warehouse and pick what they need to help make their house into a home. We’re really proud of this new scheme which is not only helping people who need it most, but we’re also saving tonnes of good quality furniture from being dumped in our communities or sent to landfill sites. Fly-tipping is a real issue in Salford and we hope this new recycling scheme will help reduce the amount of furniture dumped in our streets and communities.”
SALIX HOMES Salford lunch club to expand thanks to helping hand from Salix homes A lunch club and food pantry which feeds hundreds of people on the breadline every week can now expand its provisions thanks to a helping hand from Salix Homes. St James Lunch Club in Lower Broughton dishes out more than 100 free hot meals every week to local people including the homeless, the elderly and families on low incomes. The church’s food pantry, which runs alongside the lunch club, provides a further 50 families with 10 essential food items for just £2.50 every week.
The initiative is run from the church hall at St James Church, but until now the volunteers have struggled with a tiny kitchen limiting the number of people they can help. Salix Homes and partner contractor Emmanuel Whittaker have come to the rescue to upgrade and extend the old kitchen facilities – enabling the lunch club to welcome even more people through its doors. Rev Christine Threlfall, who runs the initiative alongside a team of eight volunteers, said: “The new kitchen has made a massive difference – we would never turn someone away, but we were really struggling for capacity. Now we can help so many more people, which will have a real impact on people’s physical, emotional and mental health as we can serve more meals and bring more people together. We’re a very diverse group, we have young people, older people, some are homeless, some are suffering from mental health issues or isolation. Some people need the food and some people just need the company and someone to talk to, but thanks to the support of Salix Homes and Emanuel Whittaker, we can feed more people and get them through the door.” The new facilities have also enabled the church to launch cooking classes to teach families how to cook fresh and healthy meals on a budget, using the ingredients available in the food pantry. Salix Homes has been working alongside Emanuel Whittaker to improve properties across Lower Broughton as part of its multi-million pound investment to homes and communities across Salford. Ben Cruickshanks, neighbourhood manager at Salix Homes, said: “Salix Homes is committed to supporting the communities where we are delivering our home improvement schemes and working with our partner contractors to improve local facilities. We’ve been proud to support St James Church with various projects over the years, so when we heard they were struggling with the outdated kitchen facilities, we were more than happy to ask our contractors Emanuel Whittaker to carry out the work. The lunch club and food pantry provide a lifeline for the local community, so we hope the new, modern facilities will enable Rev Christine and the volunteers to continue the wonderful work they do.” 19 19
SALIX HOMES Salix living receives national recognition for efforts to tackle homelessness Salix Living, which is the private sector leasing arm of Salix Homes, has been Highly Commended in the Best Homelessness Scheme category of the 24 Housing Awards. The awards were held on Thursday, October 10, which was also World Homelessness Day, an international campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the homelessness crisis. Salix Living works with homelessness services and landlords across Greater Manchester to provide affordable, quality accommodation for people in desperate housing need.
Jonathan Drake, service director at Salix Living, said: “It’s a real honour to be recognised for our work in this area by the 24 Housing Awards. We’re incredibly proud of the difference Salix Living is making to support people at risk of homelessness in our communities to get their lives back on track. At Salix Living, we believe that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home. We work closely with homelessness services who refer people at risk of homelessness directly to us and 70% of our lets are to the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. We’re doing our bit to provide secure accommodation for those most in need, but with 80,000 people on housing waiting lists across Greater Manchester, the housing crisis and homelessness is growing. We hope we can show that the private-rented sector can play a fundamental role in tackling the housing crisis.” Salix Living is now working with other organisations across the region to launch a new Greater Manchester-wide ethical lettings agency later this year. Salix Living also plays a key role in bringing empty buildings back into use as housing as part of Salix Homes’ ‘Rethinking Housing' initiative to encourage the wider sector to think differently about how it can tackle the challenges of the housing crisis. Working with private landlords and the council to access grants for refurbishment, Salix Living have created 167 affordable homes in this way, many of which are now home to people at risk of homelessness. 20 20
SIXTOWN HOUSING New community kitchen opens to support local residents Chesham Fold Tenant and Resident Association (TRA) are opening a new community kitchen to support vulnerable people who live in the local area. Volunteers will be running a weekly lunchtime session every Friday to provide a free meal to anyone who wants to attend, including those who may be facing poverty or who are socially isolated.
Food served by the kitchen will be made up of items donated through Asda’s FareShare scheme, which provides surplus foods to charities and community projects. Regular cooking courses will also be run from the kitchen, with is based within the Community Centre on Chesham Fold Road, such as how to cook on a budget. The centre is already the base for a local foodbank, which will operate from the kitchen. The brand new kitchen was installed with support from a variety of organisations. Connolly Ltd installed the kitchen, following recent work fitting new kitchens and bathrooms in surrounding council homes on behalf of Six Town Housing. Judith Norris of Bury Parish Church donated an oven hood, while Six Town Housing donated other appliances and fitted electrics. Chesham Fold TRA showcased the new kitchen at an open day on 28th September from, with a buffet, bake off, family activities and competitions. The day coincided with Macmillan’s Biggest Coffee Morning, with donations being taken for the charity. Cath Rowley, who volunteers for the TRA, said, “Volunteers have dedicated much of their free time and put in a lot of hard work to get funding and support for our community kitchen, which will be a valuable resource for residents. It was set up with the sole aim of providing ways to support vulnerable people locally, such as those in poverty or those who are isolated. We are so happy to be opening it and would like to thank everyone in the community and all partners who have helped us.” 21 21
SOUTHWAY HOUSING TRUST Southway Solutions celebrates 5 successful years In September we celebrated 5 successful years of the Southway Solutions loan scheme which we run in partnership with South Manchester credit union and since its launch in 2014 over 1000 loans have been issued to tenants.
To mark this 5 year anniversary we paid off the loan and interest for the borrower of the 1000th loan, who was Mr Mark Nicholson of Burnage. Mr Nicholson joined us for the birthday celebrations at the Credit Union office on Fog Lane. Like many borrowers he had taken out a few Solutions loans over the last few years and said he loved the simple application process and easy repayment plan.
Tenants can borrow up to £300 for periods 6mths to 3yrs to help deal with a home emergency. The idea was to prevent borrowers taking out high interest loans using doorstep and Payday lenders which can result in them developing unmanageable debt problems. We also hoped tenants would engage more with the credit union and hopefully become regular savers. All interest from the scheme goes into a Development Fund to help the credit union expand its services. Over the last couple of years this has paid for 2 Post Graduate media students who have worked hard to expand the organisation’s presence on social media and this year they are particularly working on developing their profile on Instagram. We hope tenants will continue to find the scheme useful for the next 5 years Employment events are a big hit with residents Helping tenants into employment continues to be a priority for Southway and after the success of the Spring into Work events we organised in April we decided to run another programme of employment events during October under the banner ‘Fall into Work’. Again we organised 2 employer presentations, this time by Aldi at Westcroft Community Centre and by the NHS Health and Social Care providers at Barlow Moor Community Centre. This culminated in another large jobs fair at Burnage Academy on 30th October open to all Manchester residents, which attracted over 200 visitors. Over 30 companies had stands including British Airways, Vodafone, BUPA and Britannia Hotels and many support and training services including Manchester College, The Skills Shop, The Lab Project and People Plus. 22 22
SOUTHWAY HOUSING TRUST Feedback from the day has been excellent and people particularly loved the workshops which ran all day dealing with self-employment advice and work skills. There was also a CV surgery operating all day. Over 200 vacancies were available on the day and employers said they really enjoyed being able to talk to interested attendees and some said it was the best jobs fair they had been to which was very encouraging. So far exhibitors say they have handed out 61 application packs to people interested in applying for their vacancies so when we follow up further we expect some good outcomes with regard to people landing jobs.
Due to the success of these events we plan to run a programme of monthly employment activities in the new year and intend to run job fairs twice a year for the foreseeable future. The next one, which again will be open to all Manchester residents, will be our Spring into Work jobs fair planned for April 2020.
STOCKPORT HOMES Welcome to Woodley Pantry Foundations Stockport (the Charitable Community Benefit Society established by Stockport Homes) was delighted to open the doors to our fifth Your Local Pantry in Woodley, Stockport in October 2019. The Pantry forms part of the newly refurbished Arthur Greenwood Centre, which has been transformed into a modern, warm and welcoming facility for the local community.
The pantry is a volunteer led, community food resource with local residents signing up as members and paying a small £3.50 weekly subscription fee. In return for this, members can visit the pantry once a week and select up to 10 items from a wide variety of goods. This includes chilled, frozen, dairy, fresh meat and fish, fresh fruit and veg and all the usual store cupboard favourites. These items are often worth in excess of £25.00 at retail value. The acquisition of a refrigerated vehicle has provided the Pantries with further flexibility to collect donated goods locally and the pantries were thrilled to recently welcome the Co-op on board as our newest pantry food partners. The Manchester based charity Every Month will also soon commence donations of free menstrual product packs to the pantries. For more information contact our Community Food Officer on 07866 999 844 or email us at email@example.com The Employment Team arrange recruitment In July, Stockport Homes' Employment Team worked in partnership with Job Centre Plus to help a new branch of retail outlet ‘The Range’ with recruiting to over 80 staff posts. Stockport Homes had high interest with over 200 enquiries for people to attend. Following the intensive job readiness course we developed, over 40 people were put forward for an interview, with all attending, which the Job Centre said was unheard of! In total over 20 customers secured positions and are now embarking on their career in retail.
STOCKPORT HOMES Stockport Summer Fun Stockport Homes Group and local communities celebrated the summer holidays in style – with events and activities to keep young people active and occupied. Cooking up a storm with the ever popular ‘Holiday Kitchen’ project at Brinnington and Adswood – over a hundred families and children learnt new recipes, and some top tips for cooking at home.
School holidays often place extra pressure on household budgets, and 70% of the families attending said that the sessions had helped them to save money on food during the holidays. Other events included crafts and adventure activities – with 83% of parents saying that the planned activities reduced stress during the break, with feedback including “Thanks so much for making the last three weeks of the holidays so varied and enjoyable. Really would've been lost without it and is has really helped financially and made my son happy.” Jenny Osborne, Chair of SHG said, “Supporting communities to come together, get to know each other and learn new skills is something that we are really pleased to support. For our tenants to live in communities where they have positive relationships and networks. It’s great to see such positive feedback and know how much of a difference the summer project has made to families.” Spotlight on Fuel Poverty In the North West of England, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) statistics show that 399,000 households (12.8%) currently live in fuel poverty. Among social tenants 13.8% of households in England are fuel poor. Here at Stockport Homes, we recognise that many of our customers may struggle to adequately heat their homes this winter. As such, we have two dedicated Energy Advisors who work with our customers on a daily basis to help tackle these issues.
STOCKPORT HOMES What kinds of support do we offer?
Energy Advice Home Visits– We can offer to visit customers at home and undertake a range of energy efficiency checks. These include showing how to use heating controls correctly and discussing energy usage. By checking a customer’s existing energy tariff, we can also see if they are receiving the best deal. We can compare their current providers deal against that of other suppliers to see if switching could save them money.
Our energy advisors will also liaise with suppliers to revise estimated bills and arrange refunds if money is owed. We will also check if the customer qualifies for A Warm Home Discount payment. If eligible, the customer may be awarded £140 which is credited to their energy during winter. The last financial year saw us generate savings of over £85,000 for our customers
Trust Fund Applications – Many energy suppliers have trust funds in place to help customers who may be facing hardship. A successful award may see a customer’s debts reduced or cleared. This is especially valuable to those with prepayment meters who may have self-disconnected. We are currently working with our Facilities Management team to target households who require help getting back on supply. Last year Stockport Homes’ energy advisors successfully applied for £3,700 in trust fund awards.
Digital skills – Stockport homes provide ‘drop-in’ style surgeries for customers wanting to learn more about managing bills and accounts online. An average family household could save £300-£400 yearly by moving from quarterly paper billing to monthly direct debit payments. Being internet savvy may mean a customer is able to search for their own cheaper online energy deals in the future.
Referral to Money Advice – Here at Stockport Homes we also have a dedicated money advice team who are on hand to work through any financial problems. They offer free money and benefit advice, check entitlement and provide assistance with benefits claims. We work closely with this service to ensure that customers are receiving as much financial support as possible to help maximise their incomes. 26 26
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP Healthy Wythenshawe and Manchester’s Homeless Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG) hosted its most successful tenant conference to date with an impressive 208 local residents in attendance. The conference took place at Wythenshawe Forum on 31st October and this year’s theme was ‘Healthy Wythenshawe’.
Attendees enjoyed a packed agenda, including presentations from special guests Andy Burnham the Mayor of Greater Manchester, The Bishop of Manchester, Doctor David Walker who delivered presentations on the issues surrounding homelessness on the streets of Manchester and Chief Executive of TPAS, Jenny Osbourne MBE. The event also featured the 2019 Wythenshawe Community Awards which were presented by the Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Abid Chohan. WCHG Group Chief Executive Nick Horne said, “This was my first Tenant Conference as Group Chief Executive and was really impressed to see the level of involvement and interaction with our tenants and their enthusiasm, commitment and empowerment for the Wythenshawe community. The Conference put the spotlight on some tough issues Wythenshawe and Manchester are facing such as the impact of adverse childhood experiences and homelessness as well as celebrating and championing tenant involvement with ‘Together with Tenants’, and the legendary ‘Community Awards’ showcasing the great work going on in Wythenshawe. I would personally like to thank all the involved tenants, volunteers and colleagues who contributed to making this a hugely successful conference”. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said, “It was a great honour to be invited to speak at WCHG’s Tenant Conference which enabled me to place the spotlight once again on the issues surrounding the homelessness crisis and the positive ground gained to support people get off the streets. We are now in the second phase of the ‘A Bed Every Night’ scheme which has seen 700 people previously sleeping rough in Greater Manchester supported into warm, safe and supported accommodation. Numbers have continued to fall but we still have195 people sleeping rough across Greater Manchester, we now have a network of organisations pulling in the same direction and I will maintain my commitment to 27 27
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP end rough sleeping. Wythenshawe has had some great MPs, the late Alf Morris and Paul Goggins who was a close friend of mine along with Wythenshawe’s current MP Mike Kane, who have been instrumental in fighting for the rights of local people”. Chair of the WCHG Board, The Bishop of Manchester, Doctor David Walker said, “I’m proud of the way WCHG is playing its part in combatting homelessness in our city, both in helping our tenants to survive and thrive in their homes and in helping find homes for those who have ended up with nowhere to live. It is all too easy to end up on the streets, and too many people across our city have faced that experience in these last few years. Whilst we still need major improvements in how our national government delivers services that reduce, rather than increase, the numbers becoming homeless, in Manchester we have made substantial strides in the last few years”. Partnership working to tackle childhood obesity WCHG’s Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre in partnership with local GP surgeries at Wythenshawe Forum Centre, ran a pilot project over the summer to support the Wythenshawe Community with childhood obesity issues to provide a safe supportive group where young people could participate in physical activity.
Nine sessions were facilitated for young people between the ages 11-16 years, who engaged in 2.5 hours of physical activity for each session, whom would not ordinarily get the chance to be involved in such activities. As part of this session young people also received a free healthy option meals to encourage further healthy eating alongside physical activity, to encourage them to work towards maintaining all round healthier lifestyles. Participants were referred via the weight management clinic at the Wythenshawe Forum and their meals were funded by the local GP surgeries. This programme was a huge success and as a result weekly classes are now being planned to roll out in the New Year. Wythenshawe Food Bank and The Bread and Butter Thing WCHG’s Wythenshawe Foodbank have set up a new discount food membership partnership scheme called ‘The Bread and Butter Thing’ with deliveries commencing 15/11/19. It's an offer of heavily discounted surplus food from supermarkets etc. (good food that would otherwise go to landfill), for people who can afford to pay for a weekly order (£7 = 3 full shopping bags). There's no choice of items, but in return people get a lot for their money. WCHG hopes it will be an offer that provides a step-up from the emergency and free community food we offer through Wythenshawe Foodbank, for people who are not in immediate crisis but are on low or insecure food budgets.
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP
Holiday hunger breakfast/lunch clubs Wythenshawe Community Housing Group recognises that school holidays can be an expensive time for parents whose children normally get a free meal at school. During the summer Universal Credit became fully affective in Wythenshawe affecting a number of families whom had to wait 5 weeks for their payments to come through. WCHG funded the holiday hunger breakfast /lunch club which was rolled out at a number of venues across Wythenshawe, offering free vouchers for children and families to have breakfast and lunch who access free school meals.
UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD Mental Health & Universal Credit: Investigating Claimant Experiencesâ€”By Joe Pardoe, PhD Student at the University of Salford Research has shown that recent changes to the benefits system, especially the rollout of Universal Credit, have profoundly impacted the UKâ€™s poorest communities. This has been found to partly account for the massive increase in national rates of poverty, particularly child poverty. The link between poverty and health has long been established; a region with a high rate of poverty tends to correspond with a lower standard of general health and mental health. My study is interested in how people who live within an area with a relatively high rate of poverty, such as Greater Manchester, may experience changes to their mental health throughout their engagement with the benefits system and receipt of Universal Credit. Claimants who are vulnerable to mental health related issues and mental health conditions, such as those who receive additional disability benefits like PIP, often see their need for support intensified throughout the process of engagement with the benefits system. What is less well known is, how those without pre-existing mental health conditions may experience changes to their mental health throughout the process of claiming. Prior research has identified various aspects of claiming that may impact upon mental health, such as being subject to the Work Capability Assessment and having to deal with the rigors of meeting conditionality measures to avoid being sanctioned. However, while I am interested to talk about these kinds of issues, I am particularly keen to allow individuals themselves to identify what aspects of claiming Universal Credit may have affected changes to their mental health. I aim to interview 30 people who have reported changes to their mental health throughout the process of claiming; this may include those with pre-existing mental health conditions, or those who have mentioned experiencing mental health related issues since starting to claim. I am interested to hear from anybody who lives within Greater Manchester or Salford and is open to discuss this topic by drawing upon their personal experiences. The study will explore perceived changes to mental health at various stages of claiming Universal Credit, with a specific focus on: The financial impact What aspects of claiming Universal Credit may be seen as helping, or being unhelpful, to sustaining a good standard of mental health Possible issues around meeting conditionality measures, including in-work How people claiming Universal Credit may feel they are seen by others; both their friends and family, and by wider society In order to support this study, I would be very grateful to hear from anybody whose job involves providing some kind of support to people who receive Universal Credit and have experienced changes to their mental health and may be open to being interviewed to discuss their experiences. If you are able to support my research or would like to find out more, please contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org 30 30
Shining a light on the poverty reduction work done by Greater Manchester Housing Providers and some of the projects and communities we work...
Published on Dec 5, 2019
Shining a light on the poverty reduction work done by Greater Manchester Housing Providers and some of the projects and communities we work...