Improving and increasing accommodation
Framework inherited dilapidated, overcrowded accommodation which dealt with the immediate and potentially life-threatening crisis of rough sleeping but did little to address the causes of homelessness or provide the platform for rebuilding lives.
The new organisation was committed to developing better quality accommodation which promoted personal dignity and met the rising aspirations of services users.
When Macedon and NHHA merged in 2001 there were two nightshelters in Nottingham – the Albion and Canal Street – both in urgent need of renewal. There was no emergency provision in the county. Ten years on Framework has provided high quality, emergency accommodation for homeless people in Nottingham and for people from every borough and district of Nottinghamshire. This has been planned in collaboration with many partners and delivered with the support of several high quality design and construction specialists.
The old Albion Night Shelter, Nottingham
The New Albion accommodation pictured in 2011
This emergency provision is supported by good quality move-on housing where people can learn to live independently, freeing up emergency accommodation for people in greatest need.
Framework has also invested heavily to create and improve specialist accommodation for young people, teenage parents, women, older people and people with enduring mental health problems and severe learning disabilities.
Framework’s total bedspaces increased from 356 in July 2001 to 709 in March 2011. To achieve this Framework attracted over £15m investment from the Housing Corporation (Homes and Communities Agency since 2008), matching this with capital support from its own reserves and from sources including the CLG’s Places of Change Programme, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, ERDF and Nottingham’s New Deal as well as trusts, foundations and individuals – both in the form of specific donations and legacies.
Setting a benchmark
The project to develop the London Road hostel, begun by NHHA in 1997 and completed in 2001, refurbished and extended the Canal Street building and set a benchmark for future developments. It provides 57 self-contained bed spaces, grouped in clusters for different client groups, including six bedsits for people able to live more independently. There are central catering, dining and laundry facilities; a nurse’s room and a counselling room for resettlement work, mental health support, drug and alcohol teams. A training area provided facilities for literacy, numeracy and IT as well as life, social and employment skills training.
The nightshelter was open from 6.30pm to 9.30am. The London Road accommodation provides 24 hour support and a chance to move away from negative street-based lifestyles.
The challenges of the London Road project recurred with each subsequent development – weaving together a complex capital funding package from several sources each with their own priorities and timescales; gaining strategic support to ensure revenue funding; satisfying the legal, regulatory and political conditions necessary to obtain planning consent; and addressing neighbourhood concerns. Only a housing association with charitable objectives to tackle homelessness would accept the effort and risks involved.
Putting a roof over someone’s head is a means to an end: it provides the stability to address the underlying causes of homelessness and to equip people with the social, emotional and practical skills for independent sustainable living – enabling people to contribute to society rather than being dependent on it.
Framework’s Annual Report for 2003/04 said: “Strategies on homelessness, drugs, alcohol and mental health will fail unless they acknowledge the need for vulnerable people to have good quality housing”.
Framework has contributed to the implementation of those strategies in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire by providing a network of accommodation which provides a pathway to resettlement and helps break the cycle of homelessness.