Day centres can play a crucial role in ending homelessness by tackling rough sleeping, supporting move on, preventing tenancy breakdown, and promoting employment, education and social networks.
Day centres often work with people who have the most difficult journey from the street to independent living, welcoming people who are not willing or able to engage with other services. They develop flexible, innovative ways of working, including outreach and specialist services, and work with a large proportion of service users with high support needs. Day centres also support socially excluded people to sustain their tenancies and break the cycle of repeat homelessness.
The national context
There are over 200 day centres in England working with homeless people. Provision ranges from those offering basic facilities such as food, showers and laundry to ‘places of change’ where service users are supported to develop skills and confidence, engage in meaningful activities and move towards training, employment and independence.
Day centres are key partners in the delivery of many No Second Night Out projects around England, developing innovative multi-agency approaches to meet the needs of both new and entrenched rough sleepers.
Day centres do not usually provide housing but may be able to help people move into accommodation. Some restrict their services to people who are sleeping rough, while others offer activities and resources to the wider community. Most day centres share an ethos of being welcoming and accessible, often engaging with people who are excluded from mainstream services.
Homeless Link’s 2012 Survey of Needs and Provision (SNAP) showed that:
13,000 people visit day centres on an average day - a 28% increase on 2011
46% of day centres experienced funding cuts in the past year
Most day centres are used by rough sleepers, and in a third of services more than half the clients are sleeping rough
Read the full SNAP 2012 report and download the day centres hot topic here.
Support for day centres
Homeless Link is funded by the John Laing Charitable Trust and the Tudor Trust to support day centres in England.
The Day Centres Specialist provides support by:
Identifying and sharing good practice with England’s 200+ day centres (view the map of visits)
Organising regional events for day centres
Providing direct support to at least 25 day centres in each year of the project (details here)
Producing Effective Action guidance on the role of day centres in ending rough sleeping and adopting the No Second Night Out approach
Raising the profile of day centres as places of empowerment and change
For further information or to discuss support for your day centre, please contact email@example.com or call 020 7840 4423.
models of day centre provision and Support
There is no common model of day centre provision. Services are shaped by their history, local need, funding and the vision of trustees, staff and volunteers.
Most day centres have some element of open access, and many combine this with more structured support. One-to-one meetings with a support worker can build a trusting relationship, help the service user to articulate their needs and aspirations, agree action plans and achieve positive change. Satellite sessions from other organisations can provide access to specialist support such as healthcare or housing. Meaningful activity (e.g. arts, sports, access to training, volunteering and employment) can develop the skills, confidence and motivation needed to sustain independent living.
The Day Centres Project has started to publish guidanc and case studies covering common models, themes and responses so that services can learn from successful approaches elsewhere.
Find out more about models of day centre provision and support, including assessment, support planning, key work and client involvement in the Day Centre Handbook.
Support is available to plan or review your model of provision (see 'Support for day centres' above).
Day Centre Standards
The London Housing Foundation has developed a set of standards for day centres. Achievement of this quality standard demonstrates that the service is accessible; focused on change; working in partnership with its service users and local stakeholders; and employing excellent people.
The Day Centre Standards are an effective and accessible tool for day centres to evaluate and develop their services. Further information can be found on the LHF website here.
Homeless Link’s Day Centres Specialist can support services to adopt these standards.
Day centres face particular funding challenges and are often reliant on short term funding through donors, trusts and foundations.
Find out how to adopt a sustainable approach to funding, including financial planning, targeted fundraising and alternative funding sources on our funding for day centres page.
To find day centres and other homelessness services in your area, search using the Homeless UK website. To add your day centre to Homeless UK please contact Homeless Link on 020 7840 4430.
Shelter’s online housing advice resource provides information based on a client's housing situation, for example ex-offenders or those in private rented accommodation.
Homeless Link produces guidance on a range of areas, including No Second Night Out, Supporting People with NRPF, and Entitlements for EEA Nationals. Please see our Effective Action page for the full list.