Easing the transition from temporary accommodation to long-term homes

How we’re helping prevent homelessness by supporting people through temporary accommodation

Easing the transition from temporary accommodation to long-term homes

In the news this week, we have seen that the use of temporary accommodation is at a 25-year high in England, with latest figures showing that 105,000 households are in temporary accommodation, up 10% on this time last year. According to the report, a further 83,000 were “initially assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness.”

Part of our mission of ending rough sleeping in London includes ensuring people are moved into long-term, sustainable homes, that meet their needs. However, sometimes this isn’t a straightforward, single move, and our Peer Landlord scheme provides shorter-term accommodation whereby the only other alternative might be sleeping rough.

We have two projects that are catered to different groups of people who might need some support before entering the private rented sector independently. Our project in Hackney is a form of temporary accommodation provides a grounding in support and some stability while the longer-term solution is found in a positive, productive, collaborative way. With sufficient space to develop a plan alongside support from Thames Reach, this friendly, shared environment is a direct alternative to spending time sleeping rough or in hostels, with a view to move on quickly. Mathiu’s story exemplifies the ways in which the Hackney project can be successful in helping people regain confidence in living independently.

Meanwhile in our Lewisham project, we work with people who are in work, but are struggling with maintaining their home. This could be for various reasons, such as having rent arrears, or recent experience sleeping rough. In genuinely affordable, shared accommodation, this is a longer-term solution for people rebuilding their lives.

The need for good quality, affordable, shared accommodation is essential in preventing homelessness, and in Lewisham we work with a funder of social property, who own 75% of the building, and whose investment makes a significant social impact. This is a partnership that has worked well, and that we hope to replicate elsewhere.

Affordable housing is a huge barrier to people gaining their own independence, a predicament which is especially heightened in London, where housing stocks are increasingly precariously managed and hard to come by. This important step towards a suitable home provides the time and space to explore other needs such as mental health, employment support, and financial resilience. Paying attention to these needs will give people the best chance of finding and keeping their long-term home in the near future.

Volunteer wins learning achievement award

Volunteer Becci wins Outstanding Learner of the Year with Lambeth Adult Learning

Volunteer wins learning achievement award

Becci volunteers with our Employment and Skills team, closely supporting the work of Lisa in the team. After being nominated for Outstanding Learner of the Year with Lambeth Adult Learning, Becci was thrilled to have won, with a prizegiving held last week.

“My role involves supporting Lisa with the work she does helping people improve their skills and access employment and volunteering opportunities. I’ve been helping out with the TRaVEL course, after attending the ‘Introduction to Volunteering’ course myself previously.

“I got involved with volunteering when I spoke to my local council about getting back into work, and I was told about the TRaVEL course, which helps people build confidence so they feel ready for work or volunteering. Now I help deliver this training, and help with other things like supporting people making job applications, when they might struggle putting pen to paper themselves. I like that the role tests my limits and allows me to help other people; I really enjoy helping people and learning new things.

“In the long run, I want to work with young people. I went through the care system myself and was a young mum, and the stigma around that is awful. I want to help people who went through similar experiences, as I believe the system can be really cruel and unfair, and having someone around who can listen and understand what you’re going through is really important. I want to use my passion for working with young people along with my skills and experience to make a difference.

“Last week I was presented with the “Award for Outstanding Learner of the Year” with Lambeth Adult Learning. I was nominated by Lisa, and when she told me I really wasn’t expecting to win, but I got the call and was so surprised to hear that I had won! It’s the first time in my life that an achievement has been recognised outside my immediate circle, so that was really nice. The students from the TRaVEL course came to celebrate with me at the ceremony, which meant a lot.”

Lisa, who nominated Becci, said: “I realised very quickly when Becci was a learner on the ‘Introduction to Volunteering’ course that she was going to make an excellent volunteer.  This observation was based on Becci’s calm and steady temperament, her enthusiasm to learn, her helpfulness towards me and other learners, and her relevant and edifying anecdotes of how she puts the classroom learning into practice in her own life.  She is willing to give anything a go adopting the “what’s the best that could happen?” approach which we covered on the course.  Where Becci is a classroom volunteer, learners appreciate her perspective on the topics covered.  She is also skilled at explaining elements in a different way, which is very helpful for me and for the learners.  She is an all-round asset!”


Layla’s story

Layla has been helped back into work with the help of the Lambeth IPS team

Layla’s story

Layla has been receiving support from the Lambeth IPS (Individual Placement and Support) team, who are a part of Thames Reach in our collaboration with the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. 

Layla has been living in Lambeth for several years, and was referred to the IPS service in late July, with an assessment done by the team two days later. At the time of the referral, Layla was out of work and looking to get back into full-time employment. The role of IPS is to work with people who have used mental health services in the borough who want to return to employment, or enter it for the first time.

Having graduated with a degree in media, the first piece of advice from the assessment was to boost her LinkedIn profile to become more visible to recruiters. A support worker in the IPS team worked with Layla to show her how to optimise her time on the platform and make connections, which is a vital tool to being seen by recruiters online.

Layla met with her support worker every week for at least two hours, where she was helped to apply for around fifty job vacancies in the industry she has trained in, looking at jobs in film and the media, using online job boards and resources.

She eventually found a role she was particularly keen on, a production controller. A recruiter had engaged with her through LinkedIn because he liked her profile. The first intervention of working on Layla’s LinkedIn profile was very valuable and had a positive outcome of helping her back into employment.

Her support worker is providing regular support now Layla is back in work, as her mental health makes her feel distress in certain environments. The team have worked in collaboration with Layla’s psychologist to create the most considered approach, using a mental health toolkit that was given to her before she was discharged.

Layla is now enjoying her new role and the independence that has come from it, knowing that she can speak to her support worker and team at Lambeth IPS if any challenges arise.

Read more about the Lambeth IPS service and how it is supporting Lambeth residents manage mental health in the workplace.

Tech Lending Scheme takes steps to close the digital exclusion gap this winter

The Essentials Skills team, in partnership with Hubbub, Virgin Media and O2, are helping people gain digital skills and bridge the digital exclusion gap

Tech Lending Scheme takes steps to close the digital exclusion gap this winter

A tablet lending scheme, which sees people who are facing digital exclusion given access to a digital device for up to six months, is being trialled at Thames Reach. This has been made possible thanks to funding from Hubbub, in partnership with Virgin Media O2.

Managed by the Essential Skills team, 300 tablets will be lent out to people living in temporary accommodation, while they are receiving support to end their homelessness. Devices come with free calls, texts and data allowing beneficiaries to use them for anything they need, from accessing emails and messenger apps to online materials for education and drug and alcohol programmes.

The scheme has already been rolled out in Thames Reach hostels in Lambeth and will soon be expanded to other forms of short term and emergency accommodation. Feedback from the initial pilot has been highly positive, with hostel staff seeing improvements in self-care and increased independence for residents.

When device recipients were asked how they are getting along (via text), they said:

“I am really pleased with the tablet, it is really useful in my recovery. To have the minutes and texts and data is useful. Thank you for the trust.”

“The tablet is brilliant, it is really helpful. I’m thinking of running, as I was in hospital for 6 months and had to learn to walk again. And the Mind app is great.”

“I’m loving it, I use it 24/7. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have one.”

Alongside the scheme, all recipients will be able to develop their digital skills through Thames Reach’s in-house digital training programmes delivered by specialist staff.

Jobs Fair supports the Latin American community into employment

A jobs fair for the Latin American community has been one way in which the Southwark Works team are helping people access support and employment

Jobs Fair supports the Latin American community into employment

On 16 November, the Southwark Works team ran a jobs fair at Thames Reach’s Employment Academy, specialising in opportunities and support for the Latin American community in South East London. Employers from a range of sectors were in attendance to meet with people in the Latin American community who were looking for work in the capital. 

The fair was a unique event; from two years experience working with Latin American communities in and around Southwark, the team had established the need to connect people looking for work with potential employers. This is not always a straightforward task, given challenges including language barriers, right-to-work documentation and a sufficient understanding of welfare systems, and accessing a GP.

Opportunities available in construction, care, cleaning and hospitality were shared with attendees, as well as specialist advice from Southwark Works, support services and education providers. 

We spoke with Alvaro and Julia, originally from Colombia who attended the fair in Camberwell. 

Julia said, “I was really happy to get information on the English courses, as I am looking to improve my English; it was also interesting to find legal advice here around immigration.”

Alvaro said, “We came today to look for work opportunities, and to try and find new opportunities to improve our lives in London. Now we have taken contact details and will be hopefully receiving some support to get into work and test our English, to see where we need to improve our skills.”

The fair was very well attended, with almost 100 people in the local Latin American community coming to the Employment Academy. It was an incredibly positive event for attendees, employers and Southwark Works alike. 

Giovanni, support worker in the Southwark Works team, said: “This event has been a great opportunity for the Latin American community to find out about opportunities in South East London, whether they need general support, training or employment. Similarly, it has also been a chance for support services, employers and training providers to network together, find out more about each other’s work and create the basis for long-term collaborations, and possibly a development of a hub of professionals that liaise together in order to offer specialised and tailored help to this fantastic and hard-working community.”

Area manager Isobel discusses her experience with the Traineeship

The Traineeship provides experience and training for a career working with people experiencing homelessness, and great opportunities for development. Area manager for hostels, Isobel McKenna, discusses her experience with the Traineeship.

Area manager Isobel discusses her experience with the Traineeship

“I joined Thames Reach through the Traineeship in 2011. Having worked in organisations before which were more focused on policy and lobbying government, I was keen to get some experience of front-line support work. I was attracted to Thames Reach as a very practical organisation and hoped the Traineeship would give me a way in to the sector. I started in Stamford Street, as it was then known, and then moved to another hostel, Graham House, for my second placement. I found the Traineeship to be a really positive experience, a good mix of being thrown in at the deep end and getting support and guidance from the people I worked with. I learnt from my mistakes and saw the creative and consistent work done by our organisation first hand, often shadowing more experienced colleagues. I was able to stay on after my Traineeship ended, getting a job in the Graham House team, and have worked in a few of our different projects over the years, leading to my current job as the area manager for hostels. I think the Traineeship is a great opportunity for anyone looking to start their career in the sector, and I look forward to seeing who applies for this year’s scheme as a member of the interview panel.”

The deadline for this year’s Traineeship programme has been extended to 20 February. Click here for more details and how to apply.

The essential role of Employment and Skills in preventing street homelessness

Michael Buckley, lead manager of the Employment and Skills team, discusses the work they do, and why it is important

The essential role of Employment and Skills in preventing street homelessness

Can you tell us about how the Employment and Skills team are helping people Thames Reach are already working with?
We are always looking to increase the numbers of people we work with, and offer a range of support such as basic skills training, which includes digital literacy, traditional literacy and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). We have a job broker in our teams who can set people up with employment; we have strong relationships with many employers, especially in construction, hospitality, retail, and security sectors. We acknowledge that not everyone will be ready to go straight into a new job, and many people will have gaps in their CVs where life experiences have taken place, so we can also help people become job-ready, with CV support and interview preparation.

Once people are at that stage and in employment, we are also committed to helping people get better paid work, particularly meeting the London Living Wage. We often organise employer engagement events, where we invite employers in to meet potential candidates, so we can demystify the interview and recruitment process as much as possible. They are always popular and have been very successful. For those who may not be ready for work yet, we provide volunteering opportunities to help people gain confidence, experience and get into a good routine.

Why is it so important to work collaboratively with other Thames Reach teams?
Internal teams have good relationships with the people they work with, and know them really well; some of the work we do will be a brief intervention so that the individual can take that next step. It’s so important that the relationships of trust are maintained between the individual, their support worker and the Employment and Skills team. If we can understand the challenges and the barriers that are preventing people from moving forward, we can use the resources we have to help them in the most suitable way. We work with the TST (Tenancy Sustainment Team) a great deal, all outreach teams, and sometimes hostels. We also have a strong relationship with the EUSS (European Union Settlement Scheme) team, and a good track record of signposting people to the right service to complete successful immigration status applications. This is a vital part of the process of helping people avoid street homelessness.

Do you offer support to people with a range of needs?
When we have referrals from all different teams at Thames Reach, as well as the wider community, we work with a wide range of people; some may be currently sleeping rough and receiving support through outreach teams, while some people will be in secure housing. To maintain contact, we need to find out if they have access to a mobile phone. We work with an organisation called Community Calling to get people phones so that they can keep in contact with not only us and their support worker, but of course their wider support networks. We then need to know if they are available for work, when they last worked, and what kind of upskilling they might need. Even if people are staying temporarily in hostels, night shelters or hotels, without long-term fixed addresses, we can still help them into work. For some people without fixed addresses, they may have limited entitlement to benefits, so finding work quickly is important.

Our work lies in both preventing street homelessness and helping people recover from it. Getting people into work is not always straightforward and involves a lot of personalised support around improving confidence and self-esteem as well as skills. It is important that we facilitate up-skilling; sustainable work is one of the most important things in supporting people away from homelessness.


New project helps Lambeth residents into work

New project will help Lambeth residents aged 18-30 into employment

New project helps Lambeth residents into work

Thames Reach’s Employment and Skills team have just launched their new project Bounce Back, a service led by our in-house job broker.

This two-year project will see Lambeth residents aged between 18-30 who are not currently in employment or training get advice and offers for employment. The team are accepting applications on a rolling basis, as the project will be running until 2023.

Applicants will also receive a grant of up to £500 to support costs including food and travel.

Bounce Back is kindly supported by the Walcott Foundation.

Please contact Thames Reach’s job broker, Telixia, at telixia.inico@thamesreach.org.uk with any questions, or to apply.


Thames Reach to host job clinic on 1 and 3 June

The event will provide training and advice to help people back into work

Thames Reach to host job clinic on 1 and 3 June

On Tuesday 1 June and Thursday 3 June we are hosting a job clinic at our Employment Academy community hub in Camberwell. Run by our Employment and Skills team, who help people to get back into work, the two events will be an opportunity for people to meet with the team, get advice, and make use of their expertise in order to better secure meaningful, long term employment.

The job clinic will run between 2pm-4pm on Tuesday 1 June and Thursday 3 June at the Employment Academy, 29 Peckham Road, Camberwell, London SE5 8UA

Areas covered by the job clinic will include:

– Searching for jobs

– Reviewing and improving your CVs

– Job applications

– Digital support

– Interview preparation and skills

– Personal development

– Support when you’re already in work

To book a spot at the job clinic:

If you are a Southwark resident:

email: giovanni.d’eliso@thamesreach.org.uk

phone: 07966 766 044

For all other boroughs:

email: tanja.mrnjaus@thamesreach.org.uk

phone: 07971 952 437

Meet the Employer events at Thames Reach this Spring

The Employment and Skills team are hosting guest employers for their ‘Meet the Employer’ series this Spring, open to all people looking to enter employment.

Meet the Employer events at Thames Reach this Spring

Meet the Employer events are being hosted at Thames Reach HQ, the Employment Academy in Camberwell, this Spring. In a safe face-to-face environment, they are a great way for anyone looking to (re)enter the workforce. In a range of sessions, employers who are currently hiring from a range of industries will be present, with a different organisation each time coming to meet attendees. Please see below for full details if you are interested in coming along, and contact Tanja, whose details are at the bottom of the page.

Event schedule

Hosted at the Employment Academy under social distancing guidelines.

5 May, 11am-1pm – British Transport Police, People and Development – police/security 

Presented by Michelle Pidgen, Positive Action Recruitment Team
– industry overview
– available opportunities
– apprenticeships
– recruitment process
– key dates to apply

19 May, 10am-12pm – Blue Bird Care – soft services

Presented by Alice Cerilli, hiring manager
– overview of the care service industry
– available vacancies
– how to apply and stand out
– best practice interviews
– career progression in the industry
– 1-2-1 interviews

20 May, 10am-1pm – Mitie Group – soft services

Presented by Diana Castro, soft services manager
– overview of the soft service industry, cleaning and facilities
– available vacancies
– how to apply and stand out
– best practice interviews
– career progression in the industry
– 1-2-1 interviews

28 May, 10am-12pm – Pret a Manger and Pret Foundation – hospitality

Presented by Juanita Cracchiolo, Pret Foundation employment and housing manager
– Pret Foundation overview and social impact
– Pret a Manger opportunities
– training and development
– hiring process
– opportunities

28 May, 2pm-4pm – Vistry Partners – construction

Presented by the community engagement officer
– find out about latest construction roles and vacancies
– application support
– recruitment process

For more details and booking, please contact Thames Reach’s job broker, Tanja Mrnjaus: Tanja.mrnjaus@thamesreach.org.uk or call 07971 952 437