Homeless Link is handing out funding to bridge the gap and ensure homelessness services can do the work they need
Ready for the future
On first glance, the £20m homelessness transition fund might sound like a lot. That is until you realise it’s targeted at a sector that has already lost an estimated £200m in Supporting People funding.
Surely, with more cuts to come, this barely amounts to a sticking plaster. Right?
With bed spaces and staffing number being squeezed, as well as fears over the impact that welfare reform could have, many voluntary sector services are concerned about how they will tackle rising demand for help.
This isn’t the time for sticking plasters. But it isn’t time for cynicism either.
If we are going to face these challenges head on, we need to be able to influence the changes. We need to rethink the way the voluntary sector does business. We need to ask what these reforms mean for people at the sharp end of homelessness. It’s time to draw on the resilience and creativity we’ve used in the past, engage with the new structures and adopt new ways of working.
We may face threats but there are also real opportunities.
Next month sees the election of the new Police and Crime Commissioners, charged with setting five year plans and allocating new funding to tackle crime locally. Getting to know the candidates and making sure they understand how your service tackles antisocial behaviour can ensure you’re seen as part of the solution when plans are drawn up.
In health, new GP led Clinical Commissioning Groups are being launched, bringing evidence-based commissioning to the fore. The robust collection and analysis of client data could really influence local clinical priorities – so again, making sure your service is known to the chair of your CCG will put you in the frame for future discussions.
The Big Lottery’s new Multiple and Complex Needs programme is rolling out across many areas. It’s about homelessness services building alliances across drug and alcohol, mental health and criminal justice charities. Closer working across sectors can help to highlight alternative models like personalisation.
So while the sector has been hit hard, there are still opportunities, if we’re prepared to adapt.
But there’s a dilemma. How do you find the time and resources to seek out and grasp new opportunities, meet key players, and getting your organisation fit for the future while carrying on with the essential everyday work you do? Not many organisations can easily afford to do this but on the other hand, failing to engage and adapt brings the risk of being left behind.
Which is where we come in.
The homelessness transition fund was set up to help organisations to adapt, change and turn new challenges into opportunities. Our main grants programme is all about supporting major reconfigurations in service delivery. But now we’ve launched future ready. It’s a quicker, more agile option, with grants of between £5,000 and £25,000.
How much closer could you be to taking advantage of the local opportunities I mentioned if you could backfill a key post or recruit consultants to get you started? Would you buy yourself time to build relationships with other sectors and pilot new service models – or would you investigate systems for collecting data so you can provide evidence to commissioners to demonstrate the need for the support you give?
Or perhaps a future ready grant might help you recruit and develop your volunteers, or join up back-room services across local organisations, such as IT and personnel. Or would it buy you the space to restructure your organisation and reconfigure your service – or apply commercial expertise to turn a profit in your social enterprise?
The list could go on – and it isn’t designed to be prescriptive. Ultimately, future ready gives services the breathing space to adapt, as the landscape you work in changes. This is the first step to making the transition to more sustainable funding.
The deadline for the current round of the future ready fund is the 10th December.
To find out more visit www.homeless.org.uk/fund
Samantha Rennie is the director of the homelessness transition fund