Whilst the crisis response efforts continue, and future planning is in progress, GMHAN hosted 2 events on 20th and 21st May, and then a joint meeting with the GM Homelessness Programme Board on 1st June. The following is a summary of the main points and selection of quotes raised across the 3 conversations. You can read a full copy of the GMHAN events log here. A group of people from GMHAN are also drafting a follow up vision document with asks and offers to open further collaboration, which will be circulated in the next week.
- Need for stronger focus on substance recovery (and wider health integration)
- Concerns over continuity of support / wellbeing throughout the transition processes (both for people who are homeless and for staff & volunteers)
- Practical ideas and questions for ABEN and move-on housing options (inc. use of technology, considerations for NRPF, and questions for people not in hotels)
- Want for more emphasis on prevention – worry for more people becoming homeless, particularly concerns raised for young people and people who are seen as NRPF)
- Increased interest in campaigning and systems change activities via co-production – call from many to make it clear publicly that homelessness is not just rough sleeping and that the government response needs to go far beyond the hotels
- Systemic issues that need addressing regarding a continued no evictions policy, welfare reform, raise local housing allowance rates and abolish NRPF definition
- Create an integrated strategy all sectors can work against
- Special provision for Young People, Families and People newly homeless
- Work up community support model
Selection of quotes
- From people experiencing homelessness:
- “We want definition, certainty, some kind of future security.”
- “I believe good physical health depends on your mental health, which itself is dependent on your circumstances.”
- From frontline workers:
- “It would be devastating to see people now inside and doing well losing that.”
- “I‘m concerned about people coming out of hotels but also the people who either have not gone into hotels due to their complexities and the people evicted from the hotels”
- “I’m concerned about losing good staff. Can we consider new ways of recognising and supporting the front line teams who have mobilised in carrying out creative, and highly stressful activities?”
Collective sensemaking (main room)
All 100+ cross-sector participants gave their views on what they’ve ‘seen’ over the last few months. This was a mix of hugely positive outcomes, and of course, more concerning observations. You can see the main points on the visual minutes here, or the full list of insights collated in the full notes here.
Continuation of support
- Support in place now is working well and needs to continue
- Important to maintaining relationships to bridge the transition
- Health and wellbeing – “Do we not need to be thinking about getting people healthy?”
- Keep people in safe accommodation until safe alternatives, including asylum accommodation (government and gm need to be onto this)
- What powers do we have to extend stopping evictions?
- Consider paying rent arrears rather than needing to provide more accommodations
- ABEN needs to be 24/7
- Level of support now needs to continue into ABEN
- Perhaps GM needs to commission organisations differently in ABEN Phase 3?
- Ensure wrap-around support and Personal Housing Plans are in place (maybe via different kinds of commissioning via ABEN Phase 3?) for people moving into accommodation so tenancies don’t fail
- Some people in hotels haven’t been able to get their prescription in time, can we get it to them sooner? Can we continue same day scripting.
- More collaboration with drug treatment centers rather than handing out prescriptions. We need to get to the root cause of the problem.We need to understand why and help them, not hand them more drugs.
- People with mental health and drug addictions need more support, including new people becoming homeless
- Money needs to cover both existing people and people new to homelessness and services need funding
- We need a clear exit strategy from home office around asylum
- Employment support and asylum accommodation both important
- Need more of it, simply. Built by a combination of sources.
- We (public and voluntary sectors) need to work together/encourage private funders and property developers to collectively support the active building of houses.
- Health to be/remain integrated into housing as one interconnected issue. This means people’s accommodation needs matching that of their health.
- Low barriers to access and availability of accommodation key, alongside whole package of holistic support. This needs to incl. more flexibility of mental health support – directly linked to services (PIE).
- Needs to be earlier rather than later and woven into future plan – don’t wait for a prevention strategy.
- Seen as a vital ‘worksteam’ throughout transition from different types of accommodation.
- Should revolve around collaboration – need to bring campaigns and voices together. The GMHAN has a big role to play in this, not duplicating and ‘doing’ locally rather than writing to power.
- Build on food infrastructure from this period, learn from what’s worked and provide flexible support based on what facilities people have and what food they need. Should be nutritious and good quality.
- Needs to sustain orgs throughout the next 12 months and beyond so charities can find the best response going forward.
0-12 months plus
- Call for Housing Providers to change their eviction policies, ask to change the ‘local connection’ requirement, ask for NRPF change, would prefer smaller accommodation offers if possible.
- Not an easy ‘answer’, need big focus on digital inclusion and how to maintain relationships and connection without face-to-face meetings
- Can support workers stay with individuals through the journey towards settled accommodation. What can we do to mitigate the damage of another move/transition?
Integrated health offer – mental health and substance recovery focus
- Hotel guests have received fantastic support but the health offer (particularly alcohol offer) has been slow and there are still some gaps for guests who are dependent drinkers. Continuation of closer working between health and social care, and homelessness and housing.
- Need to bring in prevention strategies as soon as possible, and need to consider young people within this.
Community support model
- Engaging local people to provide support alongside use of redundant buildings and other innovatively sourced properties
Bring PIE generally into the system
- Have a Person centred approach to support planning
- Need new supported housing schemes including wet houses and pathways through
Newly homeless through Covid
- Rising unemployment and increased domestic abuse
GMHAN & Programme Board (01/06)
- I see that we need any follow-on from ‘Everyone In’ to go far beyond people who are in the hotels. Often people who are the most vulnerable are the ones who are still on the streets
- I see financial strain on key stakeholders; LAs, VCSE, RSLs
- I see progressive delivery models that we can continue to improve and sustain
- I see great partnership, huge efforts, people very tired, and sense of precarity, fear of future, jobs as well as housing
- I see GMHP looking to direct accommodation to support step down but need support
- I see repurposing of workforce working to a joint strategy
- I see precarity of situation for many people in hotels
- I see more understanding from public and organisations eg housing providers
- I see I think we’ve succeeded in making ending rough sleeping a national priority. But we’ve not yet got people to wake up to the scale of change that will entail.
- I see a bigger need than ever for prevention and systems change strategies that look at changing how it’s done (e.g. coproduction and more efficient processes) as well as what is done – e.g. outcomes
Housing and support
- Move from homelessness management to delivery of housing and support designed by and malleable to the people experiencing it
- Integrated and mixed plan for supported housing, PRS, Housing First, direct re-housing etc.
- Housing first values and principles to be embedded across the system
- More move on accommodation with offers from all sectors
- Exploration of studio homes as a quicker infrastructure solution
- Housing needs to be part of the wider conversation. Housing Providers have seen what can be done, need to keep them in this mindset.
- Clear co-ordinated response with mixed options for all and the importance/ need for supported housing
- Need for immediate solutions to the closure of hotels – eg university halls and other student accommodation with local agreements rather than reliance on govt funding
- Ensuring same standards for accommodation that people move onto. Understand the need coming through.
- Working with the Housing Providers and using the knowledge and experience from the VCSE sector to design new supported housing.
- We have a great gateway with ABEN to bring people in, engage, and start building trust and plan for pathways. We need access to decent move-on AND significant ramping up of move-on support … the costs of which would be outside the scope of any HB cost recovery.
- ABEN being a permanent will allow providers (particularly smaller providers) to make longer term improvements and plans, rather than working with 3/6/9 months funding (which actually makes things more expensive overall) and having to continuously recruit and train new staff each time.
- Providers locally from my experience over the last couple of months has been incredibly supportive having developed a direct letting process for significant numbers of move-on from TA locally but the overall numbers , type of accommodation, and varied needs across the piece for purely social housing to meet simply do not fit…. so real need to ramp up getting into the PRS (whether as direct private landlord lets or lease managed model) and as noted – significant support & ongoing interventions for the more vulnerable & chaotic individuals is essential.
- GMHP looking to offer more properties
- Choice! its so important for the person to be able to make choice about the accommodation they go into and it suiting them .i.e. flat on your own, shared. communal etc
- Personalised approach for all following the PIE model. These are principles that irrespective of resourcing simply ‘work better’
- Interested in exploring creative options for community support around housing. Building capacity in the community.
- Hearing from lots of frontline orgs how great the substance recovery response and the relationships which have formed in the hotels have been. Need to aim for continuity of these where possible.
- Engageable plans for physical / process / social infrastructure reform & development – these are interdependent but distinct (the booth centre / aben is an example for a desire to create all three in one whose methodology undermines the establishment of each… ‘exclusion / breakdown from one is exclusion from all’ – stems for difference between creating what we think we can with available resources and creating what we know we should then resourcing that)
- Understand the successes and gaps in newly mobilised health support into hotels/other settings
- VCSE sector is short of £19.5m in GM already, reserves very low
- This is an opportunity to ensure the VCFSE sector is recognised by the public services as integral to achieving local ambitions and the transformation of public services, as well as amplify the voices of local people to increase their influence in shaping services, policies and decisions
- We have seen the voluntary and faith sector really support people whilst homeless and with move on’s and with ongoing support. There is an opportunity to invest to strengthen
- Need to ask LAs (if not already) what they think they need in terms of support and how GMHP and VCSE can assist. think that will bring something unique
- Rebuild the voluntary sector capacity for longer term low level ongoing support and to help people to ‘normalise’ life of the streets and provide opportunities for ‘new’ beginnings
- VCSE sector are more than capable of doing co-designed personal planning and to provide long term support to individuals as they move and progress – our issue is more about access to funding, many groups currently not sustainable
- We should speak to people who’ve been in a place with 9 other people with drug and alcohol problems before deciding that is a sensible model just because it’s cheaper than Housing First in the short term. How often does that option permanently end someone’s homelessness situation?
- Where exactly can people’s lived experiences genuinely shape the response?
- Worked really well in Housing First devolving the power for the first stage of recruitment to people with lived experience
- Prison Reform Trust as an example – a group of prisoners chose a topic based on how likely it was that the governor would be able to implement their recommendations. Seemed like a good piece of work
- How can we make plans transparent as they develop, and so people can collaborate? How open can we be? At GM and locality level?
- Is there any way to encourage localities to co-produce their plans?
- Spread voices regarding homelessness across other spaces
- Housebuilding programme/ Retrofitting and Job Creation opportunities
- We could tackle PRS, reintroduce rent control or rent freeze/long term eviction moratorium
- End NRPF, increase LHA rates, continue pause to evictions
- Shift in understanding of DWP into a community resource (limitations and proactive remit defined in collaboration with local areas with health outcome maximisation via inequalities minimisation work the joint goal.
- Joint funding forum: ‘Bringing resource symmetry to co production and accessibility to decision making, and participative accountability” (services for the poor tend to produce poor services and reinforce poverty)?
- Limited discretionary spend direct budget for individuals and families in GM direct from government (when this exceeds spending on our national family – accountability & evaluation review executed [match to sovereign grant £41.6 mill annually – joint lobbying with other city regions]
- Why is it impossible to re -shift holding the financial pressure [of rough sleeping specifically] from regional to national?
- LAs have statutory duty to provide support, if LAs do not have the cash to do this it should form part of the revenue ask
- Scale of revenue required that won`t come from the welfare model
- VCSE sector can access funding that local authorities can’t in terms of developing new community based support and initiatives.
- Seems clear we have a huge resource gap and the more we can be clear and transparent around need, the more all resources available can come in, including HPs, community support and businesses as well as government.
Views from @LockdownLIVEs
Mental health and access to care: https://vimeo.com/424049266
Food access: https://vimeo.com/420297096
What i see: https://vimeo.com/421546179
What’s working well: https://vimeo.com/425137412
- “Here it seems quite holistic – we have asylum support, we have drug and alcohol, maternity care – a lot of resources.”
- “Watch every little penny: you try to eat three different vegetables everyday, which I can’t afford.”
- “Charities have been good but it’s all canned food and because of the virus you need to top up your immune system. Some charities can’t offer hot meals like before, and you can’t risk being around people so you rather stay at home.”
- “I believe good physical health depends on your mental health, which itself is dependent on your circumstances.”
- “I moved to temporary accommodation and I called after about a week to see what happened with assignment of the social care worker. The previous officer was on leave during COVID-19 and the duty officer again listened all my story. It is kind of humiliation to ask someone to repeat his pains, his problems, his issues and obstacles; still I did.”
- During these two months of homelessness in temporary accommodation my health has gone worse, depression is high all the time and my legs have become more defective.
- No anti depressant can work unless outer triggers are switched off. And no social care will resolve an emergency referral unless there is an element of empathy.”
Relevant future meetings
GMHAN Advisory Board 23 June
GM Homelessness Programme Board 14 July
Next Full GMHAN 9 September
As mentioned above, a group of people from GMHAN are also drafting a follow up vision document with asks and offers and are open for further collaboration. It will be circulated in the next week.
If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into what might happen in this time of great transition and uncertainty, we are hosting a series of 6 sense making sessions following the ULab journey, supporting us to see emerging possibilities for societal change. You can find out more and sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gm-transformation-lab-tickets-108460255544
Or follow our journey at https://gmulab.wordpress.com/
Please send any further insights, suggestions and qns to firstname.lastname@example.org.