Homeless Link is delivering an onwards grants progamme on behalf of Comic Relief, providing a total of £450,000 in funding for Housing First projects in England. Five organisations have been awarded grants for innovative activities that will extend and improve the support they offer.
Funding awarded to Housing First services to enhance support
The Housing First Fund, funded by Comic Relief, will see the five successful organisations build capacity and introduce new approaches within services that are already delivering Housing First at a local level. We received a great number of strong submissions, all with innovative ideas around how they could enhance the outcomes of their residents – from gender-informed support to peer mentor schemes – and we are excited to see these in action.
We also asked that the organisations showed how the funding would improve the financial sustainability of their services beyond the end of the grant period. This is key for Housing First services, where the offer of support is open-ended and unconditional.
Homeless Link are firm believers that Housing First is an integral part of the solution to ending homelessness. The evidence shows that it works for some of society’s most vulnerable people and therefore it’s important that the approach is made available locally for everyone who needs it.
To this end, our grants programme sits alongside our Housing First England project, which has been working to promote, support and sustain a national movement of Housing First services since 2016. This supports existing and potential organisations and commissioners involved in Housing First by producing guidance and research, offering networking and training opportunities and policy influencing.
Through this work, we see the enthusiasm, commitment and expertise that already exists in Housing First teams across the country. The Fund gives us the opportunity to build on this and to inform our national network so that together we can continue to end homelessness for hundreds of people.
We are constantly learning in order to develop and grow the Housing First services in England and, almost ten years on from the establishment of the very first service, we have come a long way. The country has a network of effective services that are faithful to the Principles for Housing First in England and are ensuring positive outcomes for the people they support.
Below is a list of the Housing First Fund grantees and a summary of the funded activities that they will carry out, with further information here.
Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA), Exeter Housing First service
BCHA, in partnership with Julian House, will employ a Peer Mentor and Co-production Development Worker for two years, to lead on the co-production of a peer mentor offering. The role will plan and deliver recruitment, training, professional development and support for the peer mentors. Peer mentors will support residents, using their own lived experience to help navigate and understand recovery, emotional wellbeing and trauma.
Brighter Futures Housing Association, Stoke-on-Trent Housing First Service
The service will be enhanced with gender expertise and a focus on pro-actively engaging and supporting women experiencing homelessness and multiple disadvantage. This will include training staff in gender- and trauma-informed care, Psychologically Informed Environments and violence against women.
SHP, services in the London Boroughs of Islington, Newham and Redbridge
SHP will address the difficulties of multi-agency working, introducing a new role to promote systems change and ensure better partnership working between the range of different services needed to support Housing First residents. Residents will benefit from improved outcomes through a sustainable support network.
South Yorkshire Housing Association, Rotherham Housing First service
The service will provide in-house psychological support for its residents, which will enable tailored interventions and lead to better outcomes. Workshops to shape a trauma-informed counselling service will be co-designed with residents and one-to-one counselling and group support will be offered. The Housing First staff will benefit from a reflective practice service.
St Mungo’s, London Borough of Camden Housing First service
St Mungo’s will employ an Occupational Therapist (OT) to work directly with people living in the Camden Housing First pathway to empower them in their independence. The role will also connect the Housing First team to key contacts across the sector, and share skills with the team to embed the learning into their practice.
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Rick is the CEO of Homeless Link and was appointed to that role in July 2012. He is a member of the government’s National Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel and the London Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Task Group.