Homes at the Heart: From Jordan to Accrington

In our final Homes at the Heart of Settled Futures blog we hear from Jayne, our lovely Neighbourhood Specialist who’s been involved in a refugee resettlement project. In case you missed it, you can catch up on a video from our homelessness hostel Alt Bank House, and find out about the power of partnership working in Liverpool to end rough sleeping! 

Resettling refugees, in Jayne’s words

It would be fair to say in the mere 27 years of my housing career I have rehoused quite a few homeless people but one project in particular gave me a new challenge and great job satisfaction. The Global Resettlement Scheme is a project that involves housing refugees fleeing from conflict anywhere in the world. It was first run back in 2018 and, because it was such a success, is being run again this year.

One of our tenants making scrubs during lockdown!

Early in 2018 our Head of Neighbourhood Services asked me to lead on the project to re-house 10 families from Syria – not exactly sure why as anyone who knows me wouldn’t exactly say I’m known for my organisational skills!

The project started with me hoping that the 10 3-bedroom houses would be ready in time to decorate, carpet and fully furnish them before the arrival of the families in July. Indeed, the properties did become available but to say the task of getting them ready for the families became a tad stressful is a slight understatement! With a real group effort, including our Repairs, Wellbeing and Neighbourhoods teams, we managed to have all 10 properties ready for move-in day.

My colleagues and I were out in our neighbourhoods at 6am waiting to welcome the families. They arrived at Liverpool Airport early one July morning and were straight on a coach to their new homes in Accrington. I can’t imagine what it felt like for them to leave Jordan and then 24 hours later be sat in a house in a town and country they didn’t know, with little knowledge of the language just surrounded by the few belongings you can carry in a suit case (although they were very large suitcases and all families seemed to have brought a tea set with them that, when I later visited them, they insisted on offering me the strongest coffee I’ve ever tasted in my life!).

Fast forward two years and, with a great deal of support in place, of the ten original families eight are still in our properties. Of the two that moved, one got married and moved to Burnley to live with his wife – we’ll allow that! – and the other family just fancied a move to Blackburn. The children are thriving at school, training courses for adults have been attended, several of them now have jobs, and of course their language skills have improved.

It’s possibly the best project I’ve ever worked on, and it was good to work with a number of different agencies to help and support our Syrian families. Lancashire County Council, Calico and Hyndburn Borough Council, to name but a few, have all worked to offer them the intense support needed to sustain their tenancies.

The project has been so successful we are now awaiting the dates for the arrival of our next allocation of families!  Fingers crossed things won’t be quite as fraught this time when it’s arrival day, as due to a certain virus we’re having a more staggered approach!

Behind the scenes

Our Head of Neighbourhood Services, Joanne, has added: “I nominated Jayne to lead the project as she is really caring and has a great ability to connect with customers, especially those in need – she was the perfect colleague to lead on this project and was commended on by our partners for the success of it.”

If you’re an Onward customer dealing with homelessness or any financial issues, get in touch for free and friendly advice and support on 0300 555 0600.

Get in touch on 0300 555 0600 or take a look at our website to find out more about our homelessness support

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