Housing & Homelessness

LockdownLIVEs

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LockdownLIVEs: Co-Production and Creative Advocacy during Covid-19

By Katy Rubin, LockdownLIVEs

When the pandemic hit, the first priority for the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network and the GMCA was to ensure that GM residents in hostels or rough sleeping would be able to self-isolate and stay safe. The next priority has been to direct food, health care and other essential services to these emergency accommodations. While this urgent work has been underway, the needs for creative expression, co-produced research, and a sense of connection were also increasingly pressing.

In mid-April, the LockdownLIVEs project was born, in collaboration with the GMHAN and Street Support Network. LockdownLIVEs is a docu-series co-created by GM residents in emergency and temporary accommodation during the pandemic. The project aims to creatively connect people who are self-isolating in emergency accommodation; and help the broader public understand how this crisis affects those who don’t have their own homes. All GM residents experiencing homelessness are invited to submit 1-minute videos, poems, drawings, and photos about what life is like right now. The submissions are edited into twice-weekly, themed episodes that air on social media (@StreetSupportUK and @LockdownLIVES) on Tuesdays and Fridays at 3pm. LockdownLIVEs aims to offer an opportunity for viewing and discussion online, to help build community over the weeks and months that the lockdown continues.

LockdownLIVEs video screen grab for GM Poverty Action

In the first three weeks, five episodes have been released addressing the challenges of communicating with GPs and support workers over the phone, and the resulting feelings of isolation and anxiety; the experience of food insecurity, and not having choice about your own diet; the frustration when those around aren’t observing social distancing; and the added anxiety when the government is unclear about their response. There have also been examples of collaboration, beauty and hope: residents in hotels bringing music back to the lockdown; working together (with masks and gloves) to build planters for flowers; and sharing humorous poems about what to watch (or not watch) on TV.

Project coordinators have heard from staff at front-line organisations that watching these videos at the end of a workday has been both emotional and encouraging; overall, the project has been received with enthusiasm from staff and residents. Some residents don’t have access to devices or data to send content, so staff are helping to coordinate the submissions; additionally, the Mayor’s Charity and other groups are endeavouring to distribute more devices and data, as internet access is crucial in the current moment.

The LockdownLIVEs team is working with other groups conducting research, so that co-produced reporting and artistic expression can support more formal evaluation efforts.  A final video product will tie various themes together, to be used as an advocacy tool. Upcoming episodes will dive deeper into the experience and help shed light on what’s working in the GM response to covid-19; what’s not working; and what GM residents experiencing homelessness hope will happen next.

Katy Rubin, LockdownLIVEs article for GM Poverty Action

Katy Rubin

Currently, the team, consisting of Jez Green of Mustard Tree, Katy Rubin, an arts-and-policy strategist, and Alex Bower, video editor, are working to spread the word to include a diversity of voices in the project. Any organisation supporting emergency or temporary accommodation is very welcome to participate: new prompts go out on Tuesdays and Fridays, and staff or residents can send any content – videos, images, poems – via WhatsApp or text message to Katy at 07926 358983, or email. Watch and share past videos via Vimeo.com/lockdownlives, and reach out with any other inquiries or suggestions.

 

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Passport to Housing

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Passport to Housing

By Clare Maskrey

Over the last fifteen months Bolton’s Money Skills Service and Furniture 4U (part of Bolton Council) have been delivering a programme of ‘pre-tenancy’ sessions to residents in supported and temporary accommodation to teach them about sustaining a future tenancy.

The aims of the project are to provide residents with the essential tools, skills and knowledge to maintain their tenancies and to educate them on their tenancy rights and responsibilities and make sure they are ‘tenancy ready’ before they move into their own homes.

The Passport to Housing is delivered direct to residents via 1-2-1 sessions over several weeks with each session lasting around an hour and covering one or two topics such as budgeting and banking, furniture options, a pre-residency check list, energy efficiency, value for money and credit repair and understanding a wage slip.

Feedback from those who have taken part in the programme has been excellent with everyone saying that they felt more confident, particularly around budgeting and energy consumption, with many applying for Warm Home Discount, switching their supplier and buying energy savings bulbs.  Their awareness of the alternatives to high street lending or rent to own schemes has meant that none had bought furniture on payment plans.

One gentleman who attended the session said he had found it very useful and was now fanatical about switching things off at the sockets. He said that he was able to read the meters correctly and the knowledge gained helped him notice when there was a problem. He felt confident raising issues with his supplier.

A staff member at a hostel in Bolton who provide supported housing to young people and their children, promoting independence and enabling them to sustain their own tenancy said: “I met with Money Skills initially to learn more about their service and the Passport to Housing scheme. A Money Skills team member came into the hostel for around 3 months to work with some of our most vulnerable customers.  During that time, they met on a weekly basis, supplementing the support that we offer. Using their expertise and connections they were also able to signpost some of our customers to other relevant services such as ‘Furniture4U’ who also worked closely alongside us.

They understood that some of our customers are dealing with some complex and challenging personal issues and circumstances and they took this into consideration when helping our customers to budget and plan for various different outcomes. They were kind, friendly and approachable and The Passport to Housing idea was welcomed by our customers, one of whom said ‘everyone should make sure they do the Passport to Housing Course because it helps you so much’.  We would always welcome them back!”

 

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GM Housing Providers Poverty Pledges

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GMFPA logo

GM Housing Providers report regularly on their attempts to tackle poverty (GM Housing Providers Spring 2019 Anti-Poverty Newsletter), and this month their pledges have been revamped to include many specific commitments to make the Food Poverty Action Plan a reality.  These include:

Action to reduce the “poverty premium”. We have pledged to work in partnership locally to identify the best deals for our customers on services such as access to technology, broadband and essentials such as white goods, furniture and clothing and to actively market these lower cost options.

Increase fuel vouchers provision and affordable white goods to ensure people have the fuel and equipment needed to cook meals. We have pledged to promote initiatives designed to reduce energy bills  and to improve access to financial advice and services for existing and prospective tenants

Establish more food clubs/food pantries, especially in areas that lack affordable healthy food. Housing providers already work with and support many of the Pantry type projects in GM and we have pledged to support the expansion of models that divert food waste.  We will also coordinate an effort which will support the expansion of bulk buy food and support further coordination of food banks and the development of food co-ops.

Open up unused land for food to be grown for community use and help to grow food for community use. We have pledged to increase initiatives to grow and access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.

Show leadership in tackling low pay, insecure work, and unemployment – become accredited Real Living Wage employers – We have pledged to do this with over half of GM housing providers now accredited.

Develop and implement local procurement policies to source supplies locally, including but not limited to food. We have pledged to adopt a consistent approach to maximising the value of our procurement and supply chain by adopting and implementing the principles in the GMCA Social Value Policy.

All Local Authorities and Housing Associations should pledge to invest in new social housing. We have pledged to work collaboratively on development sites and schemes to maximise impact and reduce costs and continue to prioritise the delivery of low cost rented housing.

 

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Real Change Rochdale

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New campaign to tackle homelessness launches in Rochdale Borough
by the Sanctuary Trust

Earlier this month, Sanctuary Trust launched a new campaign in Rochdale giving people the chance to donate towards a fund which buys practical items for people who are homeless – things like a deposit for a home, enrolment on a training course or new clothes for a job interview.

The campaign involves many local partners who will access the fund, and the Sanctuary Trust’s Pass It On scheme are proud to be leading it. Pass It On provides training and development opportunities for people who’ve experienced homelessness or related issues, so they know first-hand what it takes to make that ‘real change’ to our lives. With Real Change Rochdale, they are now providing the things to help others do the same.

Real change Rochdale for GM Poverty Action
Real Change is an ‘alternative giving’ model, offering members of the public who are worried about homelessness a way to give other than in the streets. By doing so their money can go further by joining with other people’s donations to buy bigger items, as well as the long-term support provided by charities and voluntary groups. That’s what has been seen from the campaign in Wigan & Leigh which started last year, as well as the long-running Big Change MCR initiative.

The aim of the fund is to help overcome the poverty gap which GMPA has persuasively demonstrated. Too often, the hard work that people who are homeless (and those supporting them) put in to change their lives falls flat for want of a small amount of money. This flexible funding pot gets this to them as quickly as possible so that no one needs be homeless or beg in the streets.

To provide these grants they need to fundraise, though! They had raised nearly £1500 before they even launched – with the help of partners such as Rochdale Sixth Form College who won our ‘Real Change Champions’ trophy for their efforts – but they will need more than that to keep going. Over the coming weeks they will be out talking to local people, businesses, faith groups, community groups and more, and if you would like to help you can:

•  Donate through the BigGive

•  Share the Campaign on your social media pages

•  Invite Real Change to your workplace, event or community group

•  Do your own fundraising for Real Change

More info is on their website. Individually, everyone can all do a bit, and together we can make a Real Change!

John Wigley, Brian Duffy, Mike O’Day & Tony McManus (Real Change Co-Chairs, Sanctuary Trust Pass It On scheme)

 

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A Bed Every Night

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Tackling homelessness this winter in Greater Manchester – A Bed Every Night
by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

I have always been clear that trying to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness should be something that any Mayor of Greater Manchester should be committed to.

In the 18 months since I was elected this has become my top priority. In that time I have learned a lot about what ending rough sleeping and the need for it actually means and what it will take. It has been a steep learning curve.

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness and we have adopted the goal to end the need for anyone to sleep on the streets of Greater Manchester by May 2020. This is a full seven years ahead of the government’s target.

We have seen our response to rough sleeping improve and become more co-ordinated. Last winter, across the city-region, we provided an unprecedented number of beds for people as the weather turned colder. This was due to the hard work and effort of our local authorities and their partners in the voluntary and private sectors. This year we want to do even more.

That is what we are all about in Greater Manchester. We are setting a new national standard with our ambitious pledge to end the need for rough sleeping and are now on the verge of a massive step towards achieving it with the commencement of A Bed Every Night at the start of November.

Our goal is to provide a place for every person sleeping rough every night right through the coming winter, from November 1st to March 31st. While we won’t turn people away, this scheme is only available to people whose last address was in Greater Manchester. We simply do not have the resources to open it up to people from further afield and we cannot create an incentive for more people to come here than we can accommodate.

We will be delivering this across every borough in Greater Manchester; we had over 200 places available across the city-region on November 1st. Over the coming weeks we will continue to work to increase that number as well as making sure there is a range of accommodation available, including safe provision for women and places that will look after dogs.

We also want to make sure that it is more than a bed for the night. Ideally, we want to provide a steady base with a hot shower, a hot meal and specialist support to help people begin a journey away from the streets. A Bed Every Night comes at just the right time – we will soon have more provision available through our Social Impact Bond (SIB) and our ground-breaking Housing First programme.

A Bed Every Night is not a sticking plaster but the first stage of a new systematic approach across Greater Manchester to ending homelessness. It will enable us to use every contact with rough sleepers to work with them to deliver more sustainable solutions. Ideally, we want to move people through emergency shelters into the right accommodation option for them, to enable them to stay off the streets.

Underpinning all this is our “whole-society” approach. We know we cannot achieve our goals with public money alone so we are working hard to mobilise the contributions of all sectors of Greater Manchester society – public, private, voluntary and faith – as part of the same strategy. This is the only sustainable way of tackling this chronic issue.

bed every night Andy Burnham for GM Poverty Action

Talking to those who are sleeping rough

I am so grateful to all the people who have contributed to the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund which has so far raised almost £145,000. The Fund is now wholly dedicated to the purpose of supporting A Bed Every Night.

We are also enormously grateful to Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany for throwing his weight behind the cause. Vincent has committed his Testimonial year to raising funds to support A Bed Every Night through his own Tackle4MCR campaign. We need every penny to maximise the success of A Bed Every Might and I hope people will consider supporting us however they can.

We know that there are challenges which we cannot control but, more than ever, I’m convinced that this is the right thing to do. Not least because of the number of deaths on the streets of our country. I hope that with this next development in our approach that we can go a long way towards our goal and that this will be a major step to achieving our target.

I look forward to updating you all on our programme in the New Year. Thank you for your support.

For more information, and to donate to A Bed Every Night, visit www.bedeverynight.co.uk

 

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Enabling Homes

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Article by Katie Wightman of Enabling Homes

Enabling Homes logo for GM Poverty Action articleEveryone has a basic human right to a safe, secure and stable home environment, yet the UK government has failed to ensure the right to adequate housing. With an acute shortage of housing, particularly social and affordable housing, lack of housing security, overcrowding, evictions and homelessness, Enabling Homes is attempting to offer a solution to the current housing crisis, particularly for those in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect i.e. those individuals who are ‘vulnerable’.

When it comes to vulnerable individuals and their families, one of the biggest challenges will likely be the ability to access quality accommodation, accommodation which is fit for purpose and ideal for vulnerable clients.

Enabling Homes brings specialist Housing Associations, Government Funding and Care Providers together coordinating these programmes so that Charities or voluntary organisations supporting vulnerable client groups can have immediate access to these places to live, enabling Service Users to get the home they deserve and Care Providers to get under way with their contracts.  This is usually at no cost to the Care Provider at all.

In December 2015 Enabling Homes was founded with the main objective of purchasing suitable living accommodation within community settings for vulnerable adults within the care sector. Most of those individuals we have sourced housing for require support with issues such as mental health issues, learning difficulties, substance misuse, domestic violence, homelessness and daily living independence skills. We are based in the North West of England, but we have acquired properties in the North East and Midlands as well as parts of Wales.

Enabling Homes has developed good working relationships with various charitable housing associations as well as care providers throughout the UK and listens to the needs and requirements of each service. We will research and purchase buildings to create a suitable living environment. Generally, the buildings purchased are developed into self-contained apartments, normally somewhere in the region of 8 – 18 flats, however this can vary dependent on the requirements of the service. Previously we have renovated old unused buildings, such as churches, pubs, shops, old flats and even produced some new builds, to create a high standard of living accommodation that a resident can be proud of, and ultimately benefit from.

We are taking this opportunity to reach out to you as we are passionate about obtaining and developing properties for all individuals who may require some level of support. We are confident, and would be extremely proud, to work with care providers to purchase suitable accommodation for your service. We are more than happy to work alongside any existing partnerships you may have, however we can use our network of charitable housing
associations and/or care providers if needed.

Could you take some time to discuss with us the potential opportunities we could provide? We are happy to present our portfolio and explain in more detail what we can offer. The charitable housing association will be able to provide tenancy support and all apartments provided come fully furnished to a high standard.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you wish to contact us to discuss any of the information contained within this article, please do not hesitate to contact us by email For more information please visit our website

 

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