Updated: Feb 3
Since my last blog everyone - personally and all services - have been adapting to the new operating environment caused by COVID-19.
This has had, and continues to have, a huge impact on all of us. Our delivery partners have done a great job and put in place robust risk assessments to enable them to continue to deliver face-to-face support to all people on the programme.
Following our big recruitment drive and an intensive induction we have all our new staff in post working in specific Local Authorities as we make the programme feel more local.
This has meant we were able to start taking new referrals from August; we will be working with an additional 172 people from this time until March 2021 with most of these people being taken onto the programme before Christmas.
We have also welcomed two new Dual Diagnosis Practitioners to join our existing two practitioners and they are now supporting specific delivery zones by providing reflective supervision and training to staff; direct clinical intervention to people that require it and supporting the transition into mainstream statutory health provision.
One key challenge that the programme is currently experiencing is stakeholder understanding of what the intervention is which can cause difficult expectations to manage.
Housing First is a defined housing and 'support' model - with the ongoing support being crucial, it is not a rapid rehousing model or a quick fix.
In reality, it is the relationship first between the person on the programme and their worker - this relationship is key to success and can take time to build and establish as a lot of individuals have a distrust of services.
Housing is non-conditional in terms of people needing to engage in treatment or meet certain 'housing readiness' criteria, however people need to want to give managing their own tenancy a go and to understand their rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
To help with wider understanding, we have external training booked in with rough sleeper teams across GM with a plan to then deliver more training and information sessions to different audiences across the region.
There is a host of information on this website, including the incredible Legislative Theatre event 'You know where the door is,' which we are planning to use more this year.
Another big challenge currently is that of accommodation - this will always be a challenge as we strive to deliver Housing First in a housing crisis with the demand and availability of accommodation compounded further by the current situation caused by COVID-19.
We have great support from the Greater Manchester Housing Provider partnership with 157 confirmed property completion commitments for use this year for people on the programme and we continue to work closely together to turn these commitments into a reality in these difficult circumstances.
It is a testament to this partnership work that we have supported 150 people into new homes of their own and are seeing tenancy sustainment being evidenced with 89 per cent of people still successfully accommodated.
We always left room in our partnership for growth in order to carry out responsive commissioning to emerging cohort needs following the first year of delivery and have recently closed the opportunity for four new organisations with specific expertise to join us.
We had a good response to these tender opportunities and are currently in the midst of the evaluation process. We plan for new delivery partners to be joining us in the new year.
We continue to develop the programme as we go in a test and learn approach to ensure the best service is delivered and if you have any feedback regarding the programme I encourage you to contact us via our website.
Finally, I hope everyone manages to stay safe and well during these unusual challenging times.