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ABUNDANT

L I F E HOUSING

S E RV I C E S


CONTENTS 3.HOUSING O V E R VI E W

5 . VOLUNTEER G A R D E N I N G PR O J E CT

6.THE JOURNEY FR O M H O ME L E S S T O H O M E

7.OUTREACH E N G A G I N G T H E H O ME L E S S

9 . CASE STUDY WELL-BEING

11. A DISTINCTIVE SERVICE PROVISION

12.CASE STUDY S U P PL I E RS

‘ changing addresses from homeless to

HOME’

13. SYSTEMS U PD A T E

14. KEY A C H I E VE M E NT S

1 5 . VO L U N T E E R S A R E US

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HOUSING

“Making it easier for service-users to ask for help�

ISA AC ODEN IR AN CEO

Our housing landscape has changed.

the ability to cope with and manage change.

After a quarter of a century of providing housing and tenancy–management services to marginalised communities across London, our commitment and passion have not waned.

ALHS continues to monitor the effects of welfare changes on our existing and new tenants, using the data gained to inform

We have built on past achievements, grown our outreach services, and the number and range of volunteer and work placements that ALHS is able to provide. Our homelessness outreach programmes have been running for five years and have reached many people. Our various volunteering programmes have seen us provide work placement opportunities and programmes that have led to employment. Going forward, we are seeking to extend our current services to include wellbeing and health activities that empower our service users, and that help them to maintain their tenancies. These supplementary services will increase ALHS resilience as well as the resilience levels of our service-users. Increased levels of resilience will bolster

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our strategies for wellbeing services, and for helping service-users manage their tenancies.


significant part of the administrative costs incurred in securing and setting up a new tenancy. By the time service-users reach ALHS, they will have been through a significant amount of mental well-being issues. Homelessness, relationship breakdown, financial concerns are among the top triggers of stress, depression and mental ill-health. If these well-being issues are not addressed, this could affect their ability to look after themselves, their dependents and manage their tenancies. The challenge is being able to provide long-term well-being services, or being able to signpost service-users towards other service providers.

“Challenges can also be opportunities.” Finding a way of engaging tenants with services and activities that will improve their well-being, without infringing on their rights as tenants, is paramount.

In order to receive help, they must ask for help. Our goal is make it easier for our service-users to ask for help.

Challenges can also be opportunities. We are in a prime positions to develop user-led auxiliary services, including signposting and advocacy, and engaging policy-makers on behalf of service–users.

Many of our service users are referred to us from Local Authority homeless units, whose priority housing placement is given to families with young children.

parenthood statuses to their respective Local Authority. As a result, many of our service-users come to us pre-qualified. Having pre-qualified potential tenants has helped to reduce ALHS‘s administration costs.

This means that the majority of our tenants are lone parents who, in order to Tenant vetting, and identity and qualify for Welfare support, have had to entitlement verification make-up a prove both their homelessness and lone 4

ALHS key long-term objectives are: −

-to extend the quality and range of our housing and housing support services; And

to strengthen our capacity to work in partnership.


VO L U N T E E R

“The

well-being potential of a back garden.”

-resolution of relational conflicts, including those between parents and filled with large organic cucumbers; a gift children; from one of our tenants. - provision of healthy meals and Outdoor spaces can be cultivated and lifestyles on a limited budget; used to enhance quality of life. In inner-city London where space is at a -building of social connections in a new community or neighbourhood. premium, a backyard is a valuable

Last summer, ALHS’s office kitchen was

resource.

We realised that, with a little support and investment, our tenants could Despite their inner city locations, many turn their rear gardens into a resource of ALHS' s family-sized properties have rear gardens. This got us thinking about that could help meet some of these how we could help our tenants turn their needs. gardens into a productive resource. So we got to work. With the help of funding from the National Lottery's Awards for All grant scheme, we were able to provide our tenants with This means, family activities are free vegetable relegated to meals and television. seeds, basic Healthy meals are often substituted with gardening cheaper, processed foods. equipment and gardening instruction. When we limit ALHS’s engagement and involvement with tenants to merely the provision of a roof over their heads, we The results and miss the opportunities to have a more levels of tenant comprehensive impact on their levels of participation well being. Service-users have other were much better needs that will directly or indirectly than anything we affect the quality of their tenancies. imagined. These needs include: Being on low income, the case for many of our tenants, means that there is very little finance leftover for anything other than necessities.

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Service-users tended their own vegetable plots and used the produce to augment their household’s fresh vegetables. Gardening provided an opportunity for family members to work together, exercise, engage in leisure and over-the back -garden fence conversations with the neighbours. Meeting and engaging with the neighbours is the beginning of community building and cohesion.


THE JOURNEY

OLA B AK ARE SEN IOR HOU S ING A DM IN IST RAT OR payment, they fall behind on rent payments. After a few weeks My job is to help our service-users service-users soon realise, they will not manage their tenancy and to prevent be able to earn enough to cover the loss reoccurring homelessness. of income from welfare or the debts A large part of my work is ensuring that they’ve incurred during the transition our service-users keep up with their rent period. payments. For lone parents, and families, the transition into employment can be even more traumatic and less viable, as income is needed to cover additional costs such as childcare.

I work directly with tenants.

“Our tenants need

ongoing access to one-to-one advocacy and support�

So they have to return to welfare, and the cycle continues. What we need is the ability to extend our advocacy and support provision to include

Most of my day is spent helping -budgeting skills training; service-users resolve their debt issues, or develop strategies that will help them maintain their rent payments. -advocacy and housing support; and The incomes of a large percentage of our tenants were adversely, affected by the -sign-posting to other local introduction of Universal Credit. services. Some tenants have sought part-time employment in an attempt to redress the This will help tenants develop realistic changes in income. budgeting and budget As tenants transition from welfare to projection skills. employment, their income may drop or It has been challenging to become frozen. help service-users source While they are waiting on their first 6

and access local supplementary support services that include life skills and budgeting skills. A dedicated ALHS Advocacy would help to meet the needs of service-users and providing additional tenant support will help many of our tenants achieve smooth transitions between employment and welfare; and between changes in welfare policy and income levels. Smoother transitions will result in better tenancy management and a greater sense of well-being.


LET’S H AV E LUNCH

OUTREACH

E VE RY L AS T S A RT UR D AY O F T H E MO NT H F R E E HOT,

H E AL T H Y, and H O ME - C O O K E D MEALS

to just sit, rest and relax in a safe space. Service-users have the opportunity to where service meets demand. It is where seek assistance for their other needs ALHS meets individuals who could, in the without pressure or duress. future, become one of our tenants but are not at t that point yet. We want to ensure we further develop These are people who are at the rough the service to include nutrition and end of the journey from homeless to cooking lessons. home; individuals who are rough-sleepers, living in hostels, emergency shelter, or bed-for- a-night facilities.

Outreach is at the cutting edge of

“ Outreach is where

Then there are the hidden homeless. The single person or childless couple who are homeless but haven't yet made contact with a local authority, or have made contact but haven’t met the criteria for assistance from public funds.

service meets demand”

Learning how to cook will give

There are many causes of homelessness the top three being: 1.

Mortgage and rent arrears;

2.

Relationship breakdown;

3.

Mental ill-health.

Despite their varying life journeys, the majority of the individuals attending the outreach services are homeless. We do occasionally receive individuals with housing, who are unable to feed themselves, either because they are struggling to cover food costs, or they lack access to cooking facilities. Our aim is to create a comfortable space, where beneficiaries can have an unhurried hot meal, as well as being able 7

beneficiaries something constructive and enjoyable to do and break the monotony of wandering aimlessly around the streets trying to fill the time. The provision of ethno-centric services helps to overcome many barriers . The sense of cultural familiarity will make it easier for those who do not quite understand the system feel they are free to ask questions. Asking questions opens up the opportunity for conversations and for signposting to services like mobile medical care services.


L E T ’ S H AV E L U NC H

“An ethno-centric provision” LAR A, C HE F use the diversity in our volunteers, to facilitate communication and overcome any language, culture and gender barriers in our interactions with the outreach service-users. Effective outreach will help to overcome beneficiaries’ mistrust and suspicion of government agencies, and is great for promoting interaction with service-users in informal settings and for affirming value. Outreach Milestones First outreach: 2013 Meals to date: 2000 Signposting: 150 Counselling sessions: 20 Number of volunteer hours: 800hours

An effective and well-planned outreach service can help an organisation achieve many aims. It is an opportunity to: -address issues like the inability to cook or plan meals and the inability to access nutritious food; -engage volunteers with ALHS and provide trainee housing officers, social workers or community workers with work placements and hands on experience;

- develop complementary partnerships with other service providers; -raises awareness of the issues around homelessness; -provides opportunities for ALHS staff to give back to the community. ALHS‘s outreach reaches members of the community who are underserved and may not be able to access mainstream services. Our ethno–centric service is designed to 8


CASE STUDY

“It's really important to encourage a

person who is hoarding to seek help” -the clutter is causing significant distress of homelessness. Moving house is one or negatively affecting the person's of the most stressful life events. Add to educated and articulate person, who quality of life or their family'.” (Source that the stress of spending months in struggled to find affordable housing as a https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hoardingtemporary or unstable housing. single person. disorder.)

Tracy Dune, not her real name, is an

So when one of our single occupancy accommodation units became available she jumped at the opportunity.

There is much debate as to whether hoarding is a mental health disorder, but most mental health professionals agree that it is likely to be a symptom of a Tracy was the ideal tenant. She paid her deeper mental health illness such as rent on time and looked after her rental depression, schizophrenia, or obsessive property. Until, that is, Tracy became a compulsive disorder etc. chronic hoarder. Her hoarding became so excessive that it took over the whole accommodation, leaving Tracy with no access to her kitchen or bathroom.

Statistically, Tracy would have been one of the hidden homeless, an estimate and not a real number. She was single, childless and highly employable. In addition to her problems in securing housing; Tracy had problems finding meaningful employment.

Tracy consistently refused to accept any Mental ill-health affects a lot of people help from social workers or housing who are homeless or have just come out workers.

She took to sleeping in the communal hallways, which caused the other residents to complain. What happened to Tracy? How did she get to this point? “A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items, and stores them in a chaotic manner….. usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. It's considered to be a significant problem if: - the amount of clutter interferes with everyday living; for example, the person is unable to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms; or 9


“Homeless again- only this time even more vulnerable.”

Would she have been more willing to accept help if it were offered when she was in search of permanent housing? Or when she lost her job? “ It's really important to encourage a person who is hoarding to seek help, as their difficulty in discarding objects can not only cause loneliness and mental health problems, but also pose a health and safety risk. If left unaddressed, it's a problem that will probably never go away. (Source :https://www.nhs.uk/ conditions/hoarding-disorder.) The condition of the communal area around her flat deteriorated to the point where it became a health and safety issue for the other residents. ALHS’s legal duty of care to the other residents meant that an eviction notice was issued, and proceedings commenced against Tracy. Despite several attempts to contact her in order to prevent the eviction, six months later a courts order sealed her eviction. Tracy was homeless again, only this time even more vulnerable.

Tracy’s case highlights the need for advocacy and support at every stage of service-user’s journeys from homelessness to home. Such support should include offers of practical help as well as sign-posting to more specialised mental health services. It is important that support be made available to service-users while they still have the capacity to recognise they have may have mental health needs and require help. Tracy’s story highlights the vulnerability of people who have been homeless for significant periods. “We want to fundamentally shift from focusing on treatment of mental health issues to prevention, and helping Londoners stay emotionally, mentally and physically well at all ages. When care is required we want people to be able to easily access services and be treated promptly. We want both mental and physical health needs to both be met, and to ensure individuals experience high quality integrated and seamless care across all settings.

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Through this, we aspire to eliminate the inequality in life expectancy of those with severe and enduring mental illness“ (Source https:// www.healthylondon.org/our-work/ mental-health/)


A DISTINCT

“We provide housing to anyone who is entitled to rent�

PAPY NK OY SEN IOR HOU S ING O FF IC ER

Abundant Life

to making our properties available for social housing.

I understand that if I help my clients to successfully secure a tenancy; to secure a place they can call home, then I will be contributing to their long-term wellbeing.

Housing Services’ unique quality is the level of additional support that We provide housing to we provide for our anyone who is entitled service-users. to rent whether they are in receipt of We are willing, and welfare, private often do, go the My actions could tenants or proverbial extra mile. ex-offenders. potentially make a lasting difference to My job or official title We are committed to their life outcomes is Senior Housing and those of their working with our Administrator and, yes, service-users in order dependants. my job does indeed to make their tenancy involve a The most precarious work. In practice this significant amount of will mean different balancing act in my job property management. things to different is trying to match the availability of key tenants. However, what workmen to that of distinguishes us from tenants. For some it may many other Housing involve ferrying them providers includes:The workmen need to view properties in areas with which they consent from the -the level of free tenant in order to gain are unfamiliar, and additional escorting them to local access to the property support that we and carry-out job centres, or provide to both maintenance and ensuring that they our tenants and have access to gas and repairs. prospective electricity. tenants. My goal is to reduce the waiting time That's what makes my between request and job both interesting -the fact that we completion of repairs and challenging. remain committed by 30%.

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CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY S U P P L I E RS

“Sustainable and

socially responsible” Our suppliers help ALHS to fulfil its property management responsibilities. Therefore during the selection process, we carefully assess all potential suppliers to ensure they are reputable, experienced, qualified and registered with the regulatory bodies of their respective industries. In order to safeguard our tenants and their dependents, we also vet our suppliers through the Disbarring Service Most of our suppliers are small businesses or self-employed individuals. By supporting our suppliers, ALHS is indirectly supporting local businesses and facilitating economic growth.

Having invested significant sums of We minimise our carbon foot print by, as money in sourcing and on-boarding our far as practicable, choosing workmen located in communities across London, suppliers, we are keen to ensure that and we want to contribute to the quality and buying equipment from retail stores, they work with us for as long as local to the property. of life in these areas. possible. Thinking locally reduces the amount of money, fuel and time spent on travel So we pay careful attention to the Suppliers like David (not his real name), per job . possible local environmental impact of who began working with ALHS as an our business activities, and to the ways in We select suppliers who reflect the apprentice and odd job man. which our business can improve the lives diversity of our service-users, and are Now, six years later, David is a qualified of local people, beyond the provision of able to manage both ALHS expectations contractor in his own right and is our and that of our tenants. housing. go-to man for many of our property Our choice of supplier is perceived by repair requests. tenants as a reflection of the quality and One of the ways in which we do this is through our supplier selection processes. reliability of ALHS’s service provision.

ALHS ’s offices and properties are

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SYSTEMS U P D AT E

“Financial sustainability; caring’s tough face”

KUN LE OY EYEM I F INA NC E ADM IN IS TR ATO R

We help tenants to manage their payments by allowing the system to introduced that, apart from simplifying incorporate multiple, and including AHLS's financial management, are pivotal digital payment methods. in enabling the finance department to fulfil its role in helping the following to The updated systems help us provide meet their respective goals: real-time statements for tenants and

New financial systems have been

1. ALHS as an organisation; 2. Tenants, landlords and service-users; 3. Staff, volunteers and suppliers;

Management, and as the single source for all ALHS’s financial data, has greatly improved the levels of financial and process efficiency within the organization.

The new financial systems make it easier for departments across the organisation It has simplified many previously complex and time-consuming to monitor and manage projects more accounting processes effectively. By definition, financial management involves planning, organising, controlling and monitoring financial resources, in order to achieve organisational objectives. Our financial management system helps us oversee and govern our income, expenses, and assets with the objectives of maximizing profits and ensuring sustainability. We help all our internal and external customers keep track of their payments and resources. We make it possible for payment strategies to be monitored and maintained, while producing clear pathways for accountability to the management committee and to the funding and grant-making bodies. 13

Thus freeing the finance department to spend more time connecting with customers. The new systems also make it possible for the finance to reduce the time period between a complaint and its resolution. Our new systems are both secure and scalable and serve to improve ALHS customer relations management. They also provide flexible ways to capture and store financial information.


A B U N D AN T

LIFE

KEY A C H I E V E M E NT S 2 0 1 7- 2 0 1 8

HOUSING S E RV I C E S

“In 2017, we served 110 families� 1.

Home improvement programmes including utilisation of grants for new heating systems.

2.

Capital improvements to tenant homes; which means 150 families, including 90 children, are less likely to suffer from the negative economic of poor quality heating systems and housing on health and well-being.

3.

Strengthening of volunteering programmes in Homeless Outreach and Finance functions; achieved by increasing the number of opportunities for volunteering, streamlining the volunteering programme, and raising the level of skills development.

4.

Reduced waiting times for repairs to the properties.

5.

Implementation of continuous professional development programmes for staff, and participation in the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme. The impact: staff with enhanced skills, resulting in increased productivity, and levels of service.

6.

7. 8.

9.

Homeless Outreach, which feeds regular physical activity through our rough sleepers, drug and alcohol gardening project. addicts and ex- offenders. The focus 10. Developed and strengthened has been on serving ethnic minority relationships with new partners such groups, including Eastern Newham Council, St Giles Trust, Europeans, in East London. Hope Worldwide etc, and received The impact: creation of a much nominations from these needed space for respite from partners aimless wandering. This respite can The impact: ALHS is able to continue make a significant difference to an to contribute the pool of social individuals life. It could be the housing available to those in need. difference between prevention or access to treatment mental ill-health 11. Continued provision of housing to low-income families and individuals, and continued mental ill-health. despite benefits cuts and caps, by Served 110 families in 2017 allowing tenants time to transition Increased awareness of and to deal with any rent arrears environmental impact and best they incur as a result of the changes. environmental practises. This will help to reduce the gaps in provision. Created outlet for families to have EXPENDITURE

Property management Staff and volunteers Rates, utilities

Mortgage and Landlord payments Office Expenses

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VO L U N T E E R S

“Living cohesively, building community by giving back” It would be impossible for ALHS to

ALHS Volunteers

achieve all that it does without the help of our volunteers.

- impact the community;

They donate their time and skill in our offices and at our projects.

- make new friends;

ALHS VOLUNTEER STATS Average hours per week: 15

- expand their networks and thereby They are motivated individuals who want increase their social capital; Most popular department: Finance to make a difference to their communities. - enhance their social and other nonPercentage gone on to fulltime cognitive skills. Several research studies have employment: 75% demonstrated that helping others kin- gain increased self-confidence, sense of dles happiness . purpose, resilience and physical and Training available mental well-being. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. (Source ” Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A Practical, Easy Guide for Healthy, Happy Living, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.)

Volunteers with ALHS gain valuable career experience in the housing and community work sectors and meet other people in those fields. They gain the opportunity to practise important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organisation skills.

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Company number 08043867 9 Campbell Rd E15 1SY

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Abundant Life Housing - Annual Report 2018  

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