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.

How you can help homeless and vulnerable people this Christmas

Donate to our Big Give Christmas Challenge today

How you can help homeless and vulnerable people this Christmas

If you have enjoyed the Banquet, Mark Holford, the WCIT Deputy Master, asks you to give generously to the Thames Reach Hard to Reach Fund, which will provide vital support to the people we work with this Christmas.

Clicking the Donate button below will take you to our Big Give page  where every pound you give will be doubled. We have a target of £11,250 which will be doubled to £22,500 (as of Friday we have raised £5,000). We expect this to help 100 to 150 people. This donation page will remain open until Tuesday.



Here are some examples of the good your donation will do:

£350 – Could furnish a flat for somebody moving into their own place for the first time in many years

£100 – Could buy someone a bike to cycle to a new job

£40 – Could buy a smart phone for someone, helping them to stay in touch with loved ones and access support, a crucial lifeline during the pandemic

£15 – Could cover the travel costs of someone accessing emergency accommodation

Donate today and help provide vital support to the people we work with this Christmas.

Thanks so much for your support.

Happy Christmas from Thames Reach.

Ivo, from South London, pictured above, is just one of the people who’s been helped by the Hard to Reach Fund, to read about how we helped him recover from long term mental health difficulties, click here.

Ivo’s story

Since moving into his own flat, Ivo has seen a huge improvement in his mental health, taking real steps forward on his path to recovery.

Ivo’s story

Since moving into his own flat, Ivo has seen a huge improvement in his mental health, taking real steps forward on his path to recovery.

He first moved into his new flat in January through Brokerage and Resettlement in Lambeth (BRiL), a collaborative project between Lambeth council and Thames Reach, which aims to provide people living in supported or residential accommodation with a flat of their own.

People who have struggled with long-term mental health problems can sometimes end up staying in residential homes or supported housing longer than they need to, often because there are no suitable alternatives. BRiL is addressing this by purchasing properties on the open market and then letting them to formerly homeless people at an affordable rate.

Ivo, originally from Brazil, has lived in the UK for 35 years, and worked at the Savoy Hotel for 20 years, eventually becoming head butler. Around 2011, he began to struggle with his mental health. He eventually became very ill and had to move into supported accommodation. He spent a number of years receiving support and treatment, which, over time, gradually lead to an improve­ment in his mental health; however, he reached a point where this environment began to hold him back and prevent him from making a full recovery.

‘I’ve always lived by myself before, so I started to find it difficult having so many strangers around me all the time, people checking up on me, having no independence, it felt very constricting and I felt like I wasn’t able to get better,’ Ivo says.

BRiL were able to help Ivo make those final steps in an environment better suited to him, moving him in to his new flat, which is his indefinitely, and helping to furnish it. A support worker also initially helped Ivo with his meals, setting up an internet connection, and organising bills.

‘I really like it here, I like the flat, the location is perfect for me, I can walk everywhere I need to go, I’ve lived in Streatham for years before so know the area. Every day, I exercise by walking to Brixton and back, which is really helping me.’

Ivo is also currently volunteering two days a week at a local charity shop, and has enrolled on a volunteer peer mentorship course in order to help others who are in a similar situation to where he used to be. He also spends a lot of time reading, particularly biographies.

‘I’m feeling really well now, 50% better. Living with strangers was difficult on top of feeling unwell at the time. I need space and quiet in order to feel mentally well and this flat has really helped me with that so much.’

To find out more about the support Ivo received when settling into his new home, read about our Big Give Christmas Challenge.

Area manager Sandra on Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group

Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group is an integral part of Thames Reach’s ongoing commitment to these values. Its convenor and area manager Sandra Barrett discusses her career progression and details how the group functions.

Area manager Sandra on Thames Reach’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group

Can you tell us a bit about your role and time at Thames Reach?

I joined Thames Reach as project worker, over 25 years ago, at the service now known as the Bermondsey Project. From there I worked in a range of roles across the organisation, including project leader before becoming an area manager in 2011. Since that time I have overseen a wide range of services, and currently I am responsible for Supported Housing. I am also the convenor for the organisation’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group.

How does the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group work?

The group meets quarterly, and now via Zoom. The forum is a place to share good practice and some of the challenges faced by our service users and staff in these areas. It can also highlight issues that are taken up and addressed at a higher level.  An example of operational change implemented was the use of Language Line. This came about as a result of feedback to the forum that the database of languages spoken by Thames Reach staff wasn’t as effective as it could be. Now with the introduction of Language Line, translation is available to all staff when needed. Feedback to the group has also informed our campaigning, such as highlighting the problems faced by EU nationals which brought about greater access to services for this cohort. I would like EDI to be viewed in much the same way as Health and Safety, in that everyone has a responsibility to be mindful and act where there are breaches.

Thames Reach have been vocal in the campaign for key workers and people experiencing homeless to have access to the COVID vaccine. What are your thoughts?

The local authorities we work with have made the COVID vaccine available to Thames Reach’s front line workers. Initially, like many others, I wanted to wait to take the vaccine to see how other people fare with it. However, with more information, over time my attitude has changed and I am pleased to say I had my first vaccine on Sunday. Whilst it does not give me 100% protection it gives me some comfort that in a few weeks’ time I will have some level of protection against COVID.