It’s two years on from the Government’s Everyone In campaign – Martyn Hale talks about how we supported the campaign and our activity to tackle homelessness
Two years ago, on 26 March 2020 the Government launched the Everyone In campaign.
The campaign asked local authorities and housing associations to immediately house rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping, to protect their health and prevent the transmission of covid 19.
A report by Inside Housing said, according to Government Statistics, within weeks roughly 37,000 people were provided with secure accommodation and immediate support thanks to Everyone In and this response saved lives.
We took part in the Everyone In campaign and opened our supported housing accommodation in Coventry to house people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The scheme was initially meant for families, but cots and bunk beds were swiftly removed and single beds with protective mattresses and high-grade flame-resistant bedding sourced. Our suppliers rallied and supported us quickly and efficiently. The wider teams involved went above and beyond throughout this period, nothing was too much trouble.
A number of customers had quite complex support needs with a history of substance and alcohol misuse. There were also people who had no access to public funds, so we agreed a process with the council where they would meet these accommodation charges directly. The remaining customers were able to access Universal Credit, supported by our on-site team.
Simple things became quite complex, like access to meals and food, as the flats were originally equipped for families to cook and prepare meals themselves. We were able to make appropriate adjustments by working with the council. We accessed a supply of food and one meal a day was delivered to each customer. We quickly adapted the cooking facilities, switching from cookers to microwaves.
When the first lockdown was lifted, we helped those who had been living at the scheme move into follow on accommodation and then started to welcome families into our supported housing accommodation.
Over the last two years we have also worked hard to increase the number of homes for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
We have been successful in bids to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for £1.75m to build 25 units across the West Midlands for homeless single people and a further £514,320 to build an extra 16 flats at our other support housing accommodation in Coventry, the Gateway. Both of these schemes have now been completed.
It’s so important that homeless people provided with tenancies have the right support to sustain those tenancies. As part of our 2020-23 business strategy, we have agreed that we will launch 76 new homes which will provide temporary accommodation and it’s fantastic that we are on our way to achieving this target.
At Citizen we have a clear social purpose, which is to provide homes that are a foundation for life.
There are some fundamental challenges people in our community’s face, and we want to be an organisation which can help them deal with these. We often do the difficult things that many other organisations can’t or won’t do.
We strongly believe that often a good home is all people need to thrive. But when times get tough, we offer all the help we can, including money advice, coaching and practical support, enabling our customers to build on their own strengths and get back on their feet.
In the future we would like to expand our own services across the West Midlands as well as consolidate the services we have in Coventry and establish a more long-term relationship with the Coventry City Council to tackle homelessness.
One organisation alone can’t solve homelessness. We want to crack homelessness once and for all by really understanding how agencies, local authorities and housing association need to work together.
It’s not just about a house or a service, it’s about helping to shape someone’s life to live independently.
Martyn Hale, Director of Care and Support