We are committed to the work we do across the city to ensure that those most vulnerable in our communities have access to a wide range of services and interventions. We have always strived to hear and see the needs of those we are working with and our approach to developing the city’s first ever Housing First programme no different.
Through our network of projects we identified a cohort of people sleeping rough who were displaying signs of an inability to engage with established intervention networks. Furthermore this cohort demonstrated additional complexity in support need including emotional and physical wellbeing difficulties, adverse childhood and adult experiences, entrenchment, addiction and crucially, a sustained sense of hopelessness. It is in our work and interactions with these individuals that the concept of building a housing first pathway was identified.
Over the past year we have worked closely with Cardiff County Council to design, develop and instigate the city’s first ever Housing First pilot. Utilising established multi agency networks, links with social landlords and expertise within our own existing programmes we created a support model and service specification that has now been awarded funding to start working directly with this cohort of people.
This is a model that we strongly believe has its place in our cities established network of services working with some of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our communities. As we now transition into accepting our first intake onto the programme we will continue to develop the approach, engage statutory and non-statutory partners and reflect on our learning to ensure we continue to offer the most vulnerable people in our communities safe and secure places to live, love and positively grow.
What is Housing First?
Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The priority is the prevention of homelessness and reinforced trauma to the individual or family involved. Housing First approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a safe place to live first in order to then start to address other issues. The support package is then designed around each individual through a multi-agency network approach that offers choice and control to people to address any other issues in their lives in a more sustainable way.
The Housing First model is increasingly being piloted in areas where rough sleeping and homelessness is on the increase and being promoted as a innovate solution for a small cohort of people who are facing multiple barriers of exclusion from existing services and increasing complexity in individual support need.
As there are variations of Housing First within the UK and abroad (including Salvation Army projects in Finland and Canada); it is important that we create and design a model that can be benchmarked against other projects that uphold the ethos of international housing fist movement. With this in mind, we have designed a service specification and model of support informed by the 7 principles as outlined by Homeless Link.
1. Everyone have a right to a home 2. An active engagement approach is used 3. Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed 4. Housing and support are separated 5. Individuals have choice and control 6. The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations 7. A harm reduction approach is used
Housing First – our approach
The majority of supported housing in the UK is a transitional stair case model where a rough sleeper transitions through support pathways towards independent living, this can include hostel, secondary accommodation and floating support. The majority of The Salvation Army’s current UK and Ireland services sit within a wider support pathway (traditional staircase model) either through our Lifehouses, floating support and Outreach projects.
With great success, we support over 75% get national planned move on rate here of our residents and service users to move on positively, towards independent living. Despite these success we are increasingly aware of a small, growing cohort of people who have not successfully transitioned through our services and are increasingly presenting with increased complex need and entrenched behaviour, each time a person is evicted or abandoned, the feelings of failure grows, trauma reinforced and the barriers to re-entering the services become greater.
So it is with this clear understanding that we now move forward with our Housing First programme, working to safeguard the most vulnerable in our community to offer a true opportunity for sustainment, engagement and transformation".
If you would like further information, please contact Catherine Docherty (Housing First Programme Coordinator) Catherine.Docherty@salvationarmy.org.uk.