The main goal of our Supported Housing project is to end – or at least dramatically reduce – homelessness within Newham, whilst helping our residents overcome barriers and obstacles within their life so that they can move towards a more stable future.
The services we provide are driven by our knowledge from working side-by-side with homeless people every day since the project was formed in 1992; originally the project was created to provide night-shelter accommodation, warm food and a safe environment. Since then the Renewal Programme has, over the years, expanded the Supported Housing project across two buildings, both located in Newham, better meeting the borough’s aim of reducing street homelessness.
The Renewal Programme supports people out of homelessness for good; this is done through education, training and staff support with housing, health and wellbeing and employment.
The referral process is the start of a resident’s experience with the Renewal Programme.
We work with adults over the age of 18, with a connection to Newham, who have been verified as a rough sleeper with a chain number. The majority of referrals made to us come primarily from the London Borough of Newham’s Housing Options unit, but we do accept referrals from partner agencies including, but not limited to, refugee councils, hospitals and prisons.
Once an individual is referred to our Supported Housing project, after an initial conversation in which we ensure they are fully informed of the services the Renewal Programme can (and cannot) offer, a meeting will be set-up between their prospective keyworker and themselves.
This meeting will establish care and support needs required and whether our services are suitable for them.
If accepted, and pending a vacancy, the service user would be offered accommodation with the project.
A holistic person-centred support plan and risk assessment would be drawn up between the service user and their keyworker, whilst realistic goals would also be set to ensure the service user achieves the end goal of breaking the cycle of homelessness and moving into suitable accommodation.
Our team of dedicated and knowledgable staff work with residents from the very beginning of the referral process. Each service user is given a key worker, at the point of moving in, whose role is to support them throughout their time at the Renewal Programme.
From identifying the root cause of the individual’s homelessness to overcoming obstacles and barriers as they work towards independent living, key workers guide residents on their journey to becoming an active member of the community using the following to nurture personal development:
- Health and wellbeing
- Financial management
- Education and training
- Employment opportunities
- Life skills
The continued support our team offer looks different for each service user but can often involve:
- Flexible personalised support, treating each person with empathy, compassion and care, without passing judgement
- Focusing on stability, building life skills and challenging negative behaviour patterns
- Encouraging residents to develop positive relationships and engage in positive conversations
- Referring and sign-posting residents to external support where necessary
- Supporting residents to engage in education and training activities/courses
- Help to improve physical health as well as mental wellbeing
- Supporting residents with employment ventures
- Building partnerships with external organisations to develop support networks for residents within the community
- Working to minimise harm, support recovery and break negative cycles
- Supporting appropriate move-on and ongoing tenancy sustainment
Key workers meet with residents regularly for key working sessions to discuss how they are getting on, how they are feeling and steps for the future.
Within our team, we have specialist support services for mental health and substance misuse.
Since 2010, homelessness within London has only increased and the outcomes associated with homelessness, particularly rough or street sleeping, haven’t improved and are still extremely poor.
Many individuals facing homelessness experience mental health problems and substance misuse problems, as well as physical health problems as a result of the conditions in which they have been living. Complex needs may also include:
- domestic/sexual violence
- relationship breakdowns
Life expectancy in those who face homelessness was found to be as low, on average, as 47 for men and even lower for women. The complexity of being homeless and having a number of needs to address is incredibly overwhelming and often individuals feel disheartened when seeking help.
However, wherever people may have come from and whatever their history, our Supported Housing project works with each person as an individual, providing support and guidance to address their needs, take control and move forwards with their lives in a positive manner.
Factoring in all of the different support needs of our residents, our staff work with external agencies and organisations within the local community, building positive pathways to appropriate services, which priorities our residents welfare, safety and wellbeing.
For many of our residents, gaining access to education and further skills/training is the key to moving on from homelessness and becoming independent. However, there can often be many obstacles in the way of preventing them to take positive steps towards a brighter future.
At the Renewal Programme, we support our service users to move forward, providing them with guidance and support to enable them to access education, further skills, training, experience and employment. This can include practical tools, motivational strengths-based approaches, coaching and courses.
We believe that education, training and experience are vital tools in both preventing homelessness and transforming the lives of those who have experienced it. We wish to empower our service users to take beneficial risks, to step outside of their comfort zone and to support them through any challenges and changes they may face during their time at the Renewal Programme.
Learning new skills helps our residents with self-esteem and confidence issues, as well as enabling them to gain experience so that they can move towards a job in a field of their choice.
Keyworkers will work with service users to explore their existing skills, development ambitions and interests. During regular keyworking sessions, residents will be encouraged to champion their steps towards skill developments and eventually employment.
The Renewal Programme promotes cross-project working and utilises our Training & Education department to provide a wide range of services for residents to make use of during the time with us. These include:
- Language classes for those who do not have English as a first language
- ICT classes
- Mathematics classes
Alongside the above, keyworkers will also support residents with job applications, preparing for interviews and developing their CVs.
An in-house volunteering programme is something we are also looking into, to help further residents’ experience.
Ultimately, we believe that education, training, work experience and eventually employment are all key to independent living. They provide routine, structure and stability, as well as a purpose and they remain the most effective route out of homelessness.
Our main aim at the Supported Housing project is to prepare residents for living independently; our team play a vital part in helping service users reclaim their lives through person-centred support.
This support includes:
- creating a move on plan with appropriate suitable accommodation, liaising with private rented sectors (PRS), sheltered and social housing
- support with viewing properties and ensuring they’re a good fit
- budget planning
- tenancy sustainment training
- completing the necessary paperwork, setting up utility bills and agreeing on affordable payment arrangements
- training on how to manage and maintain a property
Residents are expected to collaborate and engage in the search for their own properties with their keyworkers.
Residents usually stay with us for between 18 months and two years. In this time, they will gain the confidence to support themselves through education and employment, as well as learning life skills to set them up for the future. We have an open-door policy at the Renewal Programme so residents are able to stay in contact with us for familiarity and stability and our support is ongoing until they feel comfortable living unassisted.
The livelihood, and happiness, of our residents, is at the heart of everything we do. It’s incredibly important to the Supported Housing project, and the organisation as a whole, that our service users feel listened to, respected and understood.
With this in mind, the Supported Housing team actively involve residents in the service as soon as they begin their journey with us, obviously as soon as they feel comfortable to do so. When they arrive, they’re encouraged to help shape, build and strengthen the community and they are reminded that they have a shared responsibility for the project too.
User involvement can include:
- the day-to-day running of the project
- the range of services offered
- the way services are offered
During each keyworking sessions, residents are given the opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas, as well as discussing issues, key strategic priorities and suggestions for service development.
Although we do not currently have a communal space within the project, an open and honest dialogue between residents and staff is encouraged.
This dialogue ensures residents feel valued which then increases their confidence and empowerment; it also promotes engagement in the project, enabling our staff to continually provide – and improve on, where necessary – services that support residents on their journey.
User involvement can benefit both the service user and organisation; this can include:
- improved scheme management
- cost-effective services
- improved project/resident relationship
- better communication and understanding
- increased resident satisfaction
- better community spirit
- increased staff satisfaction
- development of new skills
- contributing to the moving on process; users feel more confident in taking responsibility and sharing their opinions
User involvement requires a long-term strategy that helps Supported Housing achieve our goals as it encompasses everything that will be done to involve users in the project throughout their time with us.
The aim of user involvement is not only to improve our services but, also, to help our residents develop those attributes that will be of most help to them in the resettlement process: self-confidence and self-esteem.