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GMHF reflections - breaking down the barriers

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

As we look back on the past three years, we got the thoughts of some of the colleagues who have worked on the programme to get their reflections of what being a GM Housing First hero means. In the second part of our series, we have Saleha Ali.

The GMHF pilot was launched three years ago and I was the first Engagement Worker to be employed in Zone C.

It was an extremely difficult start to the pilot as the people referred into the programme were people with multiple and complex barriers.

Engagement work started and this varied according to the person. The people I supported recognised the support on offer from GMHF and my personal role as an Engagement Worker.

My approach is person-centred, caring and compassionate to the people I supported. I would build a rapport with each of the people referred to me and used the seven principles attached to the model to promote active engagement in my interactions.

The pilot was new so I was learning as I was going along, and the workload varied daily ,due to demands, emergencies etc.

In Years 1 and 2 the work was challenging but it allowed me to establish firm relationships of trust with the people I was supporting.

In Year 3, things went from strength-to-strength as I have a better command of my role and I feel I have been able to balance support and my personal life much better.

There were barriers throughout the pilot, mainly in identifying and sourcing the right pathway, to get the correct support services that could offer the best pathways for the people we work with. I had to do a lot of networking and promotion of GMHF.

This advocacy has resulted in things getting better and work with statutory and non-statutory organisations has helped me in my service delivery. I feel I now have a good network of partner agencies which I work closely with.

Working in small steps I helped people in their journey and there is still a long way to go. I wanted to support people to anchor in their community and engage in activities.

I felt my role has been to bridge the gap for these people from where they were, to achieving their goals and aspirations.

Lockdown was difficult, but I carried on with doorstep visits and telephone support. I organised food deliveries and ensured PPE was available to the people I support. This support was most welcomed especially as most people who felt isolated and lonely.

All the people I have supported have been successfully rehoused and settled into their properties which have now been transformed into their homes.

The pilot has been a great success we only need to look at the number of people that have been rehoused and the positive outcomes and achievements that have been evidenced.

Some of the outcomes/achievements with the people I have been working with include

a reduction in substance misuse, better engagement with Mental Health and related services.

One person I support now has a GP after 13 years on the streets, another can see better as he did not know he was blind in one eye and is accessing detox and rehab.

The model helps support people to promote a reduction in crime and ASB, reduction in harm, for example:

  • Rehousing of people in their chosen area which has established community links

  • Helping to open NFA bank accounts with HSBC Bank

  • Supporting and establishing correct benefit

  • Applying for evidence they have never had before, such as a birth certificate, bank accounts, passport as well as travel passes.

I have also assisted people in purchasing and making applications for white goods and furniture to furnish their homes; support in purchasing items through personalisation; attending mediation with Housing Providers when things go wrong; supported people in sourcing a GP, Dentist, Podiatrist, and other services.

Concentrating on some of their interests has been crucial. I have purchased a guitar, air fix models, gardening equipment/plants, bicycle, gym membership for the people I support.

I have sourced free mobile phones for people so that we can keep in touch; worked on budgeting and management of their personal finances; supporting in the home and assisting in keeping tenancies in place.

Through engagement with GMHF, people have improved their sense of wellbeing and many of the people I have worked with have improved their personal grooming and presentation as their confidence has grown.

I have also managed to source free haircuts again supporting confidence and wellbeing . I try to celebrate birthdays as often these have not been acknowledged for years.

One person, following four psychological medical assessments has now been allocated the support of a Registered Mental Nurse.

I have successfully obtained grants from Act 435 who offered hot water bottles, blankets and bedding to support people through the Winter months.

Journeys are going well and I wish to work on people's strengths, goals and aspirations.

One person has asked if he could do the 10k Cancer Research Shine Night Walk in October in Manchester City Centre as he would like to participate in memory of his friends who have passed away. I will be supporting him with this goal.

I am a great believer in GMHF and have demonstrated and follow HF Principles. I adopt an active person-centred approach in my work and with the people I work with.

I personally feel there are many more in the community who could benefit from the GMHF approach.

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