Homelessness is in the news and has caught the public’s concern. But what I find frustrating is that relatively little is discussed about the solutions. Partnerships delivering the Fulfilling Lives programme have helped to make significant progress in reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. Among Fulfilling Lives beneficiaries we see a reduction in rough sleeping from 25 per cent to 17 per cent during their first year on the programme. I feel that partnership efforts deserve to play a central role in the discussion.
Our report, Promising Practice, explored how Fulfilling Lives partnerships have used Housing First approaches. Overall, the evidence suggests a high level of tenancy sustainment amongst Housing First beneficiaries.
Housing First is a client-centred model that supports individuals into independent housing but with flexible support for as long as they need it. The local evaluations of Fulfilling Lives projects contain a wealth of insights into the approach. All this and more can be found in the refreshed Publications section of the Fulfilling Lives evaluation and learning website.
Evaluations from many partnerships using the approach found it was successful. For example, Fulfilling Lives in Islington and Camden (FLIC) found the model was a highly effective strategy in supporting people affected by long-term and recurrent homelessness to gain access to stable accommodation. The evaluation of Inspiring Change Manchester’s Housing First pilot reported a 100 per cent tenancy sustainment rate and most beneficiaries had been in their accommodation for at least 12 months. West Yorkshire Finding Independence (WY-FI) reported similar successes, with a particular beneficiary group. Their approach took into account the specific experiences and needs of female sex-workers. Their approach has led to all six of their beneficiaries sustaining tenancies for 12 months. Meanwhile, VOICES’ (Stoke on Trent) reports that the approach has been so effective that the City Council embedded it in their Homelessness Strategy. The experiences of one of their beneficiaries has also been featured in the national press – a great example, showcasing an effective approach.
Fulfilling Lives partnerships also demonstrate other effective approaches to addressing homelessness. Providing ongoing support to people with multiple needs is a key part of helping them to manage and sustain accommodation. Opportunity Nottingham established a tenancy support service for beneficiaries. The service provides intensive, regular and non-time limited support. All beneficiaries of the service, many who have long histories of rough sleeping, have maintained their accommodation.
It is inspiring to see how different partnerships have responded to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping among people with multiple and complex needs. So when the nation’s media focuses on the problems of homelessness, let’s extend that discussion to their solutions. And where better place to start than the work of the Fulfilling Lives’ partnerships.