Empowering homeless people with supported housing
In Lincoln we provide a pathway of accommodation services that take people from being homeless to a home of their own. Pathways Centre manager Louise explains in a series of question and answers how our supported housing services empower people to address their problems and move forward with their lives.
Why do people end up in Framework accommodation?
Everybody has their own story to tell. Some people have suffered a history of really horrendous abuse; some people have serious undiagnosed mental health issues or problems with substance abuse. Some people can be much easier to help, but there are people who present with all of those problems combined, which is very difficult for us
What support do those people need?
When they first come through the door we just respond to their immediate needs – which can be as basic as getting them something to wear. We even have people who arrive without any shoes, because they have had them stolen when they are on the streets. We then work to give people an income (usually through benefits) and then link them in with all the usual services they may need – from doctors to dentists.
What are you trying to achieve?
We want to build a rapport with people – to find out why they are there in the first place and how we can help them to develop greater independence. Ultimately our aim is to support people to achieve the greatest degree of independence possible at the end of their time with us, but that can’t be achieved by just pushing people through the service. It only works properly when you empower people to take control of that journey themselves.
What are the main challenges you face?
The people we help are not just homeless – they typically have several other serious problems, such as mental ill-health and substance abuse. Another big issue for us is the use of new psychoactive drugs like Spice and Mamba, which can create huge barriers to support. But these are things we expect to face and things we can control to a certain extent.
But perhaps our biggest challenge is the system we are working in, which continually asks everyone to do more with less. This means we have less time to help people with increasingly complex problems.
Why are some people so hard to help?
A lot of people we help have lived on the streets for a while. They have lived day-to-day and got used to only addressing their immediate needs. This is understandable but it can take a long-time to change that mind-set – especially when people feel they have been let down so often in the past. Many of the people we help have been in the system before and have tried to get help, but it has not worked for them. They can have very low expectations and a strong belief that they are beyond help. It can be very hard to convince somebody that this is not the case and that things could be different. We have to work with people to show them what independence may look like for them, and to convince them that this is an achievable goal. It is hard and sometimes frustrating work but we will keep on trying to help people for as long as it takes.”