In the feature below, Thames
Reach Communications Team volunteer Amy Muu looks at the East London Housing Partnership an award-winning
Thames Reach initiative providing accommodation for homeless people.
An Iraqi asylum seeker, a bus
driver and a man who just wants a clean cooker. These are just a few of the
people helped by the East London Housing Partnership (ELHP), an award-winning
Thames Reach initiative delivered in conjunction with eight East London
boroughs to provide accommodation for homeless people.
Set up in 2012, it provides
private sector homes through a rent deposit scheme whilst offering support to
help people maintain their tenancies and become more independent by getting
back into work. In 2013, the project won an Andy Ludlow Award recognizing innovative
work in tackling homelessness in London. Thames Reach is the principle service
provider with around a third of the 325 clients, each with their own individual
Senior practitioner, Beth Winter,
said: “Support absolutely has to be personalized to clients’ needs. Everything
has to be adapted to where they are at in their lives.”
Bob* is one of Beth’s
service users. Suffering from longstanding mental health and other issues, Bob
found himself homeless after the breakdown of his marriage.
Despite securing stable accommodation
through ELHP, he was unable to gain work in his previous role as a bus driver
due to threatened penalty points on his licence and a fine of £750.
Beth supported Bob through a
difficult court case where she offered testimony about his engagement with
services. The result was positive. He did not have points added to his license
and the fine was also quashed. Bob is at present applying for driving jobs.
Tariq* is another of Beth’s
service users. An asylum seeker from Iraq, he suffers from post-traumatic
stress disorder and was on the verge of abandoning his tenancy because of
problems with his benefits.
Beth said: “I have so far been
able to urge him to stay and see the bureaucratic processes through.
“I have very frequent face-to-face
and telephone contact with him. He is very appreciative of my support but he looks
forward to a time when he can be more independent.”
Will* was another client
suffering despair. Feeling that he had been cheated by the local authority, he
said at one point that he wanted to throw himself under a train.
Beth said: “Myself and my colleague
took time to explain how and why he had been referred to ELHP and tried to alleviate
his feelings of persecution. It may seem like a minor issue, but the cooker had
been left dirty by the previous tenant and this just added to his negative
feelings. I offered to get cleaning materials and clean it with him. We had
regular contact after that.”
By working closely with service
users, ELHP is able to assess clients’ needs and work with them to provide support
for those needs.
Andy Langford is Thames Reach’s
north London area director. He said the project is essentially an investment in
people: “This scheme is about giving someone an opportunity.
Resources are provided but our
support always has to be twinned with someone’s motivation to move forward with
Beth agrees: “We need the service
user to want to do what we suggest. It has to start from them.”
After rocky starts, Bob and
Tariq are both now managing their accommodation. Will continues to work towards
independence. He has enrolled on a college course, enjoys improving his skills
and feels more motivated: now he cleans his cooker by himself.
*All names have been changed
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