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Supporting the homeless

Housing associations have a vital role to play in tackling the root causes of homelessness, says Simon Clark

With the country’s demand for housing far outstripping supply, combined with welfare changes, homelessness is an increasingly prevalent issue.

“In 2015, an estimated 3,500 people slept rough on any one night across England.”

Government figures released in 2015 estimated around 3,500 people slept rough on any one night across England, a rise of 30% on the previous year and double the number since 2010. And yet this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Within Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL) we continue to meet the growing demands for specialist supported living services for clients who experience homelessness, often linked to mental health recovery, relationship breakdown and physical health, coupled with a growing occurrence of youth homelessness. SSL currently supports clients across more than 300 services nationwide to achieve independence.

Support services are tailored to cater for a range of groups including entrenched rough sleepers, single homeless people with additional needs such as alcohol or substance abuse, homeless families and homeless people leaving hospital.

We offer preventative outreach work, supported housing services, resettlement support and floating support services.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill is now going through to the committee stage in parliament, with the objective of stopping people losing their homes in the first place. The proposals could see duties placed on councils to intervene early when a person is threatened with homelessness.

It’s right that the emphasis is on preventing homelessness and focusing not only on getting people off the streets but providing the appropriate support to enable them to rebuild their lives.

Housing associations that provide services to tackle homelessness can play a positive and proactive role in tackling the root causes.

Indeed, the specialist support services provided by SSL ensure we are offering vulnerable people more than just a safe and secure place to live. The Homelessness Reduction Bill and an ambition to end homelessness provide a real opportunity for housing associations to work jointly with wider agencies, not least health and adult social care practitioners, to focus on prevention and building sustainable solutions in our communities.

By establishing a tailored level of support for each person at risk, we can build the confidence and life skills needed for them to realise their potential and build a better life for themselves.

Simon Clark, group director – housing, Sanctuary

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