The issues that have arisen as a result of employing people with experience of homelessness – for service user employees, other staff, managers and teams – have all been surmountable.
As employing current and former homeless people is not common practice within the homelessness sector, the idea can cause considerable resistance and concern amongst staff.
This resistance can further intensify when an organisation sets out to employ service users with a history of multiple support needs and who lack relevant work experience in the sector.
Placement teams for trainees may need convincing that traineeships will benefit the team and their service users, and that the team will be capable of dealing with any employment or support issues that arise.
Although all potential placement teams within Thames Reach received in-house training, prior to a trainee starting, to help them think through the difficulties that might arise, potential problems and challenges were not focused on in depth.
In part this was due to a lack of organisational knowledge of the types of problems that might arise (other than stereotypical ones such as relapse or unauthorised absence).
But the decision not to focus too deeply on potential problems was also a conscious intention to break down, rather than encourage, potential staff prejudices about service users' capabilities.
In effect it was an attempt to 'normalise' the employment of people with a background of homelessness.
Read about issues affecting service user trainees, issues affecting placement teams, issues relating to sickness, and the methods that were used to overcome them.