Next Steps for Tackling Homelessness: Resources, Policy Priorities and Challenges for Implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act
On the 18th January three members of the NECG attend the Westminster Social Policy Forum event on ‘Next Steps for Tackling Homelessness’. This event occurred following the creation of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel (which has a target of eliminating rough sleeping by 2027). The range of speakers provided information on how local authorities can meet new statutory duties from April 2018 and actions needed to address the National Audit Office concerns that there are gaps in the Government’s approach to managing the impact of welfare reform on homelessness (Universal Credit was mentioned frequently). They also discussed future policy around homelessness with creation of a new taskforce and many areas adopting Housing First pilot schemes.
A number of the Fulfilling Lives projects are working on the Homelessness Reduction Act at a local level and so the event was relevant to a number of expert citisens who were either already involved in doing so or who wanted to be. The following blogs detail their experiences of the event.
Aisha, IF Group, Bristol
On the 18th of Jan 2018 I went up to London to the Westminster Social Policy Forum, about Next Steps for Tackling Homelessness, resources, policy priorities and challenges for implementation. I met Sarah from CFE and other Fulfilling Lives groups from all over the country and the event started at 9am.
When Dr Pippa Metcalf spoke about a recent homeless client I was startled by the pictures shown of a woman who had multiple injection wounds which had left her legs wounded, this led to her to injecting into her mouth. The result of this was that the client was then found dead on the street. It made me think why doesn’t this prompt government or organisations to make it safer for people who are addicted to drugs i.e) Clean needle exchange, testing for blood viruses, giving better choices for people instead of stereotyping them.
It seemed as though there was no changes as a result of this case and that made me feel disappointed in her speech, it seemed there wasn’t any changes from it. I wondered what are services doing for the people who are not engaged, the hidden clients. We need an organisation where homeless people can go, have a cup of tea, get advice, have a chat, before it’s too late. Building trusting relationships is key, we should invest in organisations that are doing this, have more lived experience involved, homeless people can connect better because that gives them hope, they can see people who have come out of the other side of homelessness, addiction, criminal behaviour and mental health problems.
In Bristol we have more staff dedicated to helping clients who are constantly being in and out of A&E, there are service co-ordinators that are based at A&E specifically for the homeless, this is one way of tackling the problem. They are there from the start, helping them get engaged with services and build back trust in services too.
In Bristol we also have a Housing First pilot with 11 of the most chaotic homeless people in Bristol, from One 25, Knightstone, Bristol City Council and Missing Link. These clients will be able to choose a 1 bed property in their area, I think this is amazing because it shows that the services are listening to the clients, building amazing trust. Even if for some of the clients it might be a big transmission and there may be a possibility that they mess up, they will still be given another flat, it is unconditional. This an amazing programme and I’m proud to be a part of it, myself and another IF member spoke with the project providers about how to deliver it to the client, how to tell them the good news.
Hugh, Every Step of the Way, Birmingham
I thought the seminar was really quite interesting. I suppose that what I am left with is the impression that most people believe that homelessness is just about the lack of housing. This is certainly one large part of the problem, but in my view ‘home’ is so much more than four walls and a roof, and any approach to addressing the problem needs to take into account more than the supply of housing for those that want it. A secure sheltered place is a good (and neccessary) start, but an approach to prevention that goes further than support with the law and finances, and further than support with mental health/addiction/offending, might be focused on building community and then integration. I suppose the approach is about what can this person offer to our community/society, as well as what can we offer them.
David McCormack, Newcastle & Gateshead Fulfilling Lives