Finding a way

andrew redfernThis annual report features some remarkable stories – of men and women who have been determined to change their lives for the better.

It is good to know that Framework has been able to help them. I say this not in any spirit of satisfaction, but as a reminder that the challenges we face, and what we do about them, can have a dramatic impact on the people that Framework exists to support.

It is they who benefit from good quality accommodation with proper sustenance, professional support, access to medical care and a clear resettlement pathway.

And they are the ones who suffer when one or more of these is restricted or disappears completely. More than once recently, parts of the media have announced ‘the end of austerity’. This may have happened in their world, but not ours.

The reduction and/or cessation of vital front-line services has continued. This plus welfare reform, more people finding themselves with neither statutory rights nor recourse to public funds, and a national shortage of housing, has a devastating effect.

Central and much of local government has long since abandoned even the veneer of a commitment to homelessness prevention. By no coincidence, rough sleeping has risen to a 20 year high.

Even on the official statistics, it more than doubled from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,134 in 2016. These figures under-state the true extent of the problem, not least because they include zero estimates from small towns and rural areas, where the rate of increase is faster than in London and other major cities.

Whatever the real count, everyone affected by rough sleeping is a human being with a story, aspirations and a life to be lived. This is what drives us – the need to adapt, so we can provide the greatest possible support to maximum number of people.

In short, we must find ways through. A recent example is the new and expanded street outreach team that covers the whole of Nottinghamshire. Initially funded by a fantastic response to our winter appeal, it is now secure for two years due to a government grant.

In Lincolnshire, commissioning decisions have required Framework and other providers to change their respective roles in housing and support. Our response has enabled us to reach more rather than fewer people.

Similarly, in Derbyshire a way has been found to continue housing care leavers and other very vulnerable young people, notwithstanding the de-commissioning of a wider housing-related support service for these and others at risk of homelessness.

You may think it strange that support for the most vulnerable groups of people should be so easy to diminish or stop. Their unwritten rule seems to be that the more crucial a commissioned service is to those in the greatest need, the more frequently it must be re-organised, re-specified, re-procured or threatened with cessation.

Our job is to find a way through these ongoing challenges and the distractions they create. Ultimately our wonderful staff make this possible. They respond to these challenges with the same professionalism and determination that they bring to their work on the ground.

They do so because they share my belief that everyone – regardless of what has happened in the past – should be supported to make the most of their future.

Looking forward to another year I have every confidence that, working together and with your support, we will find a way to make the greatest possible difference to individual human lives with the resources that are available. Thank you for your interest in our work.

 Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive