The number of rough sleepers in England had risen from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,751 in 2017 – official figures, based on a single-night snapshot estimated by local authorities each November. (The Economist, March 10 2018, p. 30.)
See also this link to Government statistics.
As I take The Lark Ascending from March to Skipton, travelling the length of England, I’m mindful of those who don’t have a bed for the night, in all the towns and countryside around. Please support the work of the Church Homeless Trust. click here.
The Church Homeless Trust writes this:
We have a number of long-standing relationships with supported housing across England in order to provide help to homeless individuals. Each person in supported housing will be going through their own difficulties and needs specific support to rebuild their life and ensure they do not become homeless again in the future. Through the individual’s key worker, we are able to provide grants that pay for these essential things which are otherwise not funded by the government.
Helping people in Birmingham
Townsend Gardens, in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham, is a 47-bed supported housing scheme comprising 12 terraced houses for young homeless women aged 16-25. Each resident has her own room and shares a kitchen–diner and a bathroom with four to five others.
Townsend Gardens is particularly valuable as it provides a very safe haven for these vulnerable young women who might be preyed upon by men in mixed projects. Only a few other schemes in Birmingham are ’women-only’ and take 16-18s. It is also much in demand by young women from black and minority ethnic communities (BME) who would not take a place in a scheme with men for cultural reasons, and around half the residents are BME.
Besides homelessness, most residents have one or more of the following problems:
- Have suffered domestic violence or physical abuse
- Have suffered sexual abuse
- Family or relationship breakdown or estranged from family and friends
- Teenage Pregnancy / homeless and pregnant (pregnant women can stay until they are up to six months pregnant and then are moved on to a Mother and Baby Housing Unit)
- Background of alcohol or drug dependency
- Ex-offenders being visited by a probation worker, or women with previous criminal convictions
- Fleeing country of origin / asylum seekers
As a result of these types of traumas, many of the residents – particularly the very young – have suffered considerable emotional damage and have developed serious mental health problems. At best they have very low self-esteem: more often they are clinically depressed, prone to self-harm, suffer personality disorders and may even be suicidal. These problems are not overcome in a week or a month, but may take months of patient work by staff, counsellors and other professionals, who will first need to gain the women’s trust.
Once these barriers have been overcome, staff at the scheme can start to work constructively with the residents to help them acquire appropriate life skills (such as budgeting, shopping/cooking, paying bills, sexual health). Some residents attend college or are engaged in vocational training. A few have jobs, but they sometimes face discrimination when potential employers discover that they are living in a supported housing scheme.
Prior to moving on to their own accommodation, residents are offered specific resettlement preparation, which helps them develop the skills and knowledge to manage an independent tenancy. After move-on, staff from Townsend Gardens offer ex residents ‘floating support’ for three months, and a number of ex-residents keep in touch for a much longer period. They are always welcome to call in at the scheme.
Helping people in Cambridge
We support over 130 people at any given time living in five supported accommodation schemes in Cambridge. Demand for services to assist homeless people in Cambridge – especially those with what are termed ‘complex needs’ (mental ill health, addiction, history of offending, learning difficulties) – is growing at a time when resources are diminishing. Most people we support are estranged from family and friends, and thus lack a support network. Many have been in care, prison or the armed forces, and need one-to-one support to help them learn to live independently, as well as intensive support to help them tackle addiction and manage and improve their mental health.
Church Homeless Trust supports the following supported housing schemes in Cambridge:
- Cambridge Youth Foyer – A 30-bed youth foyer for young people aged 16-25, many of whom have been in care, some of whom have become homeless due to family breakdown.
- The Victoria Project – A 33-bed hostel for men and women aged 18-65 with a variety of support issues including mental health and substance or alcohol misuse.
- The Springs – A 24-bed scheme for men and women aged 18-65 with lower support needs, many of whom are progressing towards move-on from The Victoria Project. There is a strong focus on education and training.
- Willow Walk – A 22-bed hostel for former rough sleepers aged 18-65 with drug, alcohol and mental health issues. Residents take part in a breakfast club, gardening club and Arts Group.
- Cambridge Move-On – 23 rooms in seven houses for people who are moving towards independence. Within the two-year maximum stay, residents receive support to maintain their own tenancy when they move on.
Residents stay in the schemes for up to two years while learning to become independent and seeking permanent accommodation, having put together a bespoke support package together with their support worker that will meet their needs. Ongoing support includes help accessing local services and benefits, and encouraging self-help by developing a network of community support groups. Upon returning to independent living, former residents continue to be offered advice and support to give them the best possible chance of a successful tenancy and sustained independence.
Helping people in Suffolk
Church Homeless Trust supports over 100 young adults and children at any given time living in five supported accommodation schemes in Suffolk. Many of the young people we support are estranged from family and friends, and thus lack a support network. Many have been in care, and need one-to-one support to help them learn to live independently; some also require intensive support to help them tackle addiction and manage and improve their mental health.
Church Homeless Trust supports the following supported housing schemes in Suffolk:
- Acorn House, in Bury St. Edmunds, is a 13-bed project for homeless young parents (mostly single mothers, some couples) aged 16-25 with babies/small children
- Cangle Foyer, in Haverhill, is a 21-bed project with 10 move-on flats for homeless young people aged 16-25
- Coupals Court, in Haverhill, is a 10-bed project for single mothers aged 16-25 with babies/small children
- Peppercorn Lodge, in Ipswich, is an 11-bed project for single mothers aged 16-25 with babies/small children
- Lindsey Court, in Sudbury, supports young parents aged 16-25 with support needs (e.g. relationship issues, mental ill health, substance misuse or homelessness). The service consists of seven two-bedroom houses and one two-bedroom bungalow with disabled access.
Residents stay in the schemes for up to two years while learning to become independent and seeking permanent accommodation, having put together a bespoke support package with their support worker. Upon returning to independent living, former residents continue to be offered advice and support to give them the best possible chance of a successful tenancy and sustained independence.
What We Fund and Why it Helps
While the schemes provide a range of services and facilities, there are many things people who have been homeless need that statutory funding does not cover. We raise funds for items and activities that help people in their recovery and their journey towards independence. For example:
- Welcome packs (worth c. £20 each) containing items such as towels, toiletries, food, and clothing for new arrivals, most of whom arrive with nothing. These items are essential to providing a good start to the recovery journey once they are in a hostel.
- Course fees and associated costs for residents wishing to enrol in work-related training or courses of study locally.
- Volunteer expenses for residents volunteering either with the hostel or in another organisation.
- IT equipment and software that helps people learn essential computer skills.
- Budgeting workshops to increase financial resilience.
- Gardening and food-growing activities to promote healthy eating, encourage exercise and help clients learn new skills.
- Replacement ID (e.g. replacement birth certificates) to enable residents to access health care, training, education, work, benefits and bank accounts.
- Cooking on a budget and nutrition workshops to promote healthy eating, encourage exercise and help clients learn new skills.
- Breakfast clubs where people socialise, make friends, and cook for one another at least once a week.
- Arts and crafts workshops providing therapeutic activities for residents to aid their recovery.
- Sports and fitness activities. These not only give residents a much-needed break from the routine of daily life, but are an excellent opportunity to build friendships, develop social skills, engage in healthy pursuits and broaden their horizons.
- Clothes and travel to help clients take up volunteering and employment in the community.
- Play equipment for the parent and children’s schemes.
- Resettlement grants of up to £200 for residents who are moving on into their own independent accommodation and who need furnishings, equipment and utensils. Experience has shown that people moving into premises with no curtains or furniture are less likely to want to live there and make it a home, which can lead to losing their tenancy and landing them back on the street.
We believe these ‘added value’ grants give the residents the best possible chance to overcome their difficulties and move on to independent living in their own accommodation.
- £500 provides 20 welcome packs containing items such as towels, toiletries and clothing for new arrivals (£25 per person). These items are essential to providing a good start to the recovery journey they embark on once they are in the hostel.
- £1,000 pays for three months of gardening, healthy eating, or grow and cook sessions.
- £2,000 would pay for resettlement grants for ten residents moving on to independent accommodation (£200 per person). This grant enables them to purchase basic household items and furnishings such as, curtains, a carpet, a fridge or a bed. Having a place of their own gives residents a sense of independence, achievement and ownership which results into greater confidence and a much more positive outlook on their future.
- £3,000 would pay for training and course fees plus any associated costs such as travel to and from classes, course materials, and decent clothing. Training opens up opportunities for employment and a pathway to independence.