As we approach Christmas and the end of the year it is a time for reflection on the year that has just been and what a year! Along with all the challenges there have been considerable successes thanks to the hard work of everyone involved in our partnership.
The delivery partners started the year working very hard to support as many people as possible into new homes of their own then the COVID-19 pandemic hit just at the start of our second year of delivery in March.
When we started the programme we had many risks identified that we mitigated against however a global pandemic was not one that was expected!
In March, the programme was at capacity due to the need to maintain fidelity and caseloads of no more then seven and we were about to embark on a huge recruitment campaign which had to be postponed due to the imposed Government restrictions of the first lockdown in response to COVID-19. This meant that we could not take any new referrals to the programme as we had planned.
However, this then lead to one of the first successes of the year as we reviewed our recruitment processes and managed to stay true to what we had planned with the co-production panel independently leading the stage one values based element facilitating over 50 interviews via zoom.
This process a huge success with all 18 vacancies appointed to with positive feedback received from the people with lived experience that were involved saying how empowered they were; delivery partners reporting that all appointed candidates have the required values to successfully deliver Housing First and the candidates themselves stating how refreshing they found the process.
The lockdown also triggered another success in all delivery partners responding to effectively adapt their service delivery to ensure people still received the support that they needed.
Delivery partners worked flexibly and responsively along with our wider housing provider partners who reviewed sign-up processes so that these could still be facilitated during even the toughest of restrictions, with 72 people being supported into new homes of their own since the first lockdown.
This adaption of process has also had a positive impact in thinking how sign-up’s can be facilitated in the future as people reported back that they preferred this new more virtual process and with less people being present at actual viewings.
Another success was how our training and induction plan was reviewed and translated into the virtual space to ensure all new staff had the appropriate support to be integrated into their new teams and the partnership and understood how to deliver support the Housing First way.
All new staff and delivery partners then started to locality work with staff based in specific Local Authorities to support with the embedding of the service and the responsiveness of the support.
We always left room in our partnership for growth and to be able to do responsive commissioning to emerging cohort needs whilst building capacity locally and broadening the breadth of our partnership offer and whilst the pandemic delayed this process it did not stop it and in November we successfully welcomed four new delivery partners into our partnership, MASH; Early Break; Human Kind and Community Led Initiatives to provide specialist support to women; young people; offenders and those with more complex behaviour. Click HERE for the official announcement.
The pandemic also did not stop our plans to use the arts to raise public perception with a successful Legislative Theatre event ‘you know where the door is’ developed and performed by actors with lived experience in front of virtual audience of over 80+ people that generated four key policy and practice issues that are being taken forward to address to impact the wider system. Click HERE to view the performance.
We then finished the year being nominated and receiving a highly commended award from Homeless Link in their Excellence awards in the co-production category.
It has been a year with much challenge and adversity for everyone but also a year of huge success and innovation and really strong internal and external partnership work that has seen 276 people be supported with 175 being in new homes of their own in the run up to Christmas.
None of this would have been achievable without the contribution of everyone in the partnership and external partners so I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to every single one of you and that you should all be so proud of not only getting through this year but for all of the successes.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and enjoys when they can a well deserved break.