If you’ve always lived in a secure home you may take it for granted.
If you’ve had a time when ‘home’ had no meaning for you, no place, or actually added to your stress and ill health then the idea of a safe, secure, welcoming home will likely be high on your wish list.
Our SO:Linked team spent the afternoon with Patrick from Keep Well Collaborative and several local housing providers talking all things health and housing and sharing information about the support that is available for people.
Keep Well collaborative (www.keepwellcollab.co.uk Twitter @keepwellcollab) is an organisation that works to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our shared communities through a focus on the home.
Patrick reminded us of the importance of home to our health and wellbeing. Something that stuck in my mind were Patrick’s words; “The NHS isn’t here to fix us, it’s here to help us live.” Patrick and his colleague are seeking to help people use “Home as a lens to wellbeing.”
It’s not always the first thing we think of asking when we meet people who are looking for support, but if on top of other challenges home means stress and anxiety, cold or damp, unsafe or non-existent, then that has a huge impact. Patrick’s organisation is trying to get Home and Health to sit down and have a chat together. Instead of looking at each other from opposite sides of the room, or passing in the corridor.
Because home can also be a place where support is found, where people support each other.
Keep Well Collaborative have worked with Solent Mind for example, helping housing tenants to support each other when they’ve experienced antisocial behaviour and encouraging peer support when people are moving on to the next step in their housing journey. Speaking with someone who has walked a similar path can make a real difference to someone facing the mixed feelings that come with moving into more independent accommodation.
We heard from several housing providers about the services they offer to tenants and to non-residents too.
Emma from Homegroup
Homegroup offer so many services across the city! Our SO:Linked navigators bump into them all the time!
They work with people between 18-65, in housing need and they must have a vulnerability. Alhtough most of their huge number of groups and drop-ins are open access and anyone can access support via these regardless of age, vulnerability or situation.
Their floating support workers support people to resolve immediate housing need such as applying for discretionary housing payment, sorting out issues with housing benefit, council tax and Universal Credit, negotiating payment plans, completing income and expenditures. They also support customers to access the community, access mental health services, arrange care needs assessments, register with a G.P and sign post them to services who can meet their needs.
Jan from Vivid
Vivid provide a holistic wrap around tenancy service for our VIVID customers which include a homeless prevention service; money advice and benefits; a one to one well being service; we have an experienced older persons team; an employment and training service as well as the usual tenancy sustainment. They each deal with a host of issues and barriers that a resident may have that would hinder their tenancy if they didn’t get support. Referrals can be made via their housing officers, self referrals either via the phone or online. We also have a digital service which is offered via libraries.
Nicky from Society of Saint James
Nicky talked to us about how “having a relationship with the streets is sometimes a big deal for people.” The support SSJ give to people right through their journey came through. They have have 3 intensive support hostels. Their alcohol service has 4 properties where dependent drinkers are able to reduce their alcohol intake safely if this is what they want. 3 other properties are provided for people when they’re ready for more independence. The support continues for a certain amount of time after people have progressed onto their own tenancy, so that people are supported through the transition.
Similarly their rough sleepers initiative doesn’t just move people on when they start to ‘get better’ they just reduce support gradually but are there for if they are needed.
Saints4Sports, an initiative with Saints Foundation, uses sport activities “as a catalyst for change”.
So next time you’re having a conversation with someone you are coming alongside why not ask about their housing situation. Is it helping them feel safe and well, or is it a source of stress and anxiety? Are they a tenant of the local authority or a housing association which offers additional support, advice and training? Do they need support to give feedback to their landlord? Do they need legal advice around their housing situation?
And if any part of your housing situation is causing you concern and you’d like help to get the support that is available, please do give our team of navigators a call or fill in the online referral form, we’d be happy to chat with you.
So home isn’t always where the heart is, but more often than not it is at the heart of our health and wellbeing. It’s good to know that support is available and that home can also be a place of change, mutual support and positive activities.
Preventing homelessness There is now a duty for inpatient services and urgent care services like A&E to refer people (with their consent) who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to the local authority for help with their housing situation. More info found at http://www.keepwellcollab.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Keep-Well-Collaborative-HRA-Duty-to-Refer-briefing-SC-PF-issued-05-10-18-1.pdf (this is a briefing for out of area placements but has many common themes applicable to local residents).
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