Homes at the Heart: Rallying against rough sleeping

This week’s Homes at the Heart theme is about settled futures, which looks at homelessness and temporary accommodation. We took you behind the scenes at our service in Knowsley earlier this week, and today we’re looking at the power of partnership with the Liverpool Homeless Reduction project.

What is it?

The project is a partnership between registered social housing providers (RPs) in Liverpool – 12 in total, including Onward and three support providers – and Liverpool County Council. It was set up after COVID began to make sure everyone sleeping rough in the city had a place to stay, and shows what working together can achieve!

So far, 606 properties have been put forward to rehouse people experiencing homelessness. 195 have been successfully let with furniture, and a further 145 have been matched to potential tenants, and viewings arranged. Out of those, Onward offered 64 properties with 45 signed up, and eight offered and waiting to sign up.

The project uses a person-centred approach to ensure they’re homes that are right for the people who will be living in them. They also receive support for the first few months of the tenancy to help make it a long-term change for the better.

What are the benefits of doing it this way?

Customers coming through the project are matched with a support worker, and contacted as early as possible in their tenancy.

For us at Onward, this has meant we can hit the ground running with any support services they need and establish a relationship, checking in with them throughout their tenancy.

People come to the project with different level of needs, so the level of support and interaction they need varies, but the main goal is for everything to run as smoothly as possible whilst ensuring the customer lives an independent life in a property that they and their family are happy in.

This approach also helps build trust, ensuring the providers are continuously in contact with customers and vice versa, rather than the first time they interact being if a potential issue crops up.

“I know they appreciated it”

One of our Supported Housing Team Leaders, Andy, says he’s seen this approach really make a difference with the people we’ve housed through the project.

“I have made links with one family’s social worker and support worker, and have been able to assist them with some housing-related queries,” he said.

“I know they appreciated this, as historically I’ve seen support workers struggle to make that connection with the housing provider.

“In another case I identified a discrepancy with the tenancy agreement. This was dealt with, and I was also able to chase some outstanding furniture than hadn’t been delivered yet, which the customer was allocated when they signed up to the scheme.

“One customer suffers PTSD following a family tragedy and receives support from Crisis but appreciates the once a week phone call from us to check on his welfare too, and to ensure there are no issues with his tenancy.”

Financial Inclusion and furniture

Another family was referred to Gemma on our Financial Inclusion Team while they were waiting for a support worker, having been rehoused by the project as part of a refugee programme. The family spoke no English, and relied on a friend to translate for them.

The couple had submitted a claim for Universal Credit and received child benefit payment. They had also managed to get most furniture and white goods they needed, apart from a few last bits.

Gemma and the team managed to get a free dining table and chairs delivered to them through a referral scheme, and suggested places to look for a cheap TV for the kids, like Facebook Marketplace, People Helping People, Cloud, Freecycle and local charity shops.

The family were then brought up to speed on how the team could support them and told to call if there were any more issues with their Universal Credit or finances.

Back on track

Another specialist told us about a young man who signed up to a property with a support worker from Crisis, but was struggling to work with them. He has suffered with PTSD for several years and also has diabetes, which he was struggling to manage.

Our Neighbourhood team referred him to Financial Inclusion to complete a benefit check, as he wasn’t sure he was on the right ones.

He was also struggling to manage his money and often ran out before his next payment. As he was on Universal Credit this often meant a month’s wait, and because of this he was also worried about paying his rent.

The team chatted through his options with him and it was decided that, due to his anxiety, his rent would come directly to us, with the rest of his benefits going straight to him in fortnightly instalments. This took the stress off him, and helped him secure his tenancy.

Off the back of all these issues however, the customer had also been submitting sick notes to work. Due to COVID-19 they were on hold and he was struggling to get hold of the DWP to sort it out. Our Specialist got in touch with the DWP and managed to get things back on track.

The team supported the gentleman throughout the whole process, such as with completing key forms and assessments, and will continue to support him with any future financial help he needs.

The customer also felt he might want more support like this in future, and wanted to know what would be available to him in times of need, so a referral was made to our tenancy support team who are now in touch with him to make sure he’s got everything he needs.

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

Overall the project so far has been an incredible effort by the city, and shows what we can achieve when we work together. We look forward to continuing these partnerships and want to say a big thank you to all involved!

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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