A critical safety net: the role of small and faith-based organisations in our communities
Blog posted by: Kate Alaway, Monday, 23 September 2019.
Homeless Link has been working in partnership with the Housing Justice team to look at the work that small and faith-based organisations are doing to address homelessness and support individuals who are sleeping rough.
The first part of this work involved surveying these organisations to better understand who they are; their views on the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy and Initiatives; and to gauge how involved they are at a local level in partnership working; the challenges and opportunities they are facing; and how they perceive their role in ending rough sleeping and homelessness.
Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to complete the survey. The findings of which have really highlighted the critical role that these organisations are playing in our communities, often filling the gaps with vital support when other services are unable to help.
The support and advice that these organisations are offering to individuals who are rough sleeping or homeless includes personalised holistic or emotional support alongside practical advice on employment issues or benefits and financial help. Sitting alongside this support, and equally as important, is them providing a safe place to stay. This could be through emergency or supported accommodation, support to access the private rented sector or support once someone has moved into accommodation.
“Organisations like ours have become the safety net that catches people who fall out of the mainstream support services.”
The findings also highlighted how a lot of this work isn’t being done in isolation, with the majority of respondents working closely with their Local Authority and other larger homelessness charities, accessing partnership working in their local area as positive. Whilst the statistics are broadly positive, the findings highlighted that more could be done to improve collaboration and overcome issues of competitive tendering and organisations feeling excluded due to their size or faith.
“It’s a collaborative approach. We need to pull the best from the public, private, VCSE and faith-based sectors and wrap the services around the individual.”
Respondents were also asked to comment on what they thought the Government could do to improve the situation for individuals who are rough sleeping or homeless. The most common reply was a request for longer-term sustainable funding, alongside an increase in the supply of affordable housing and improvements to the welfare system making them easier to access. The findings from this survey, alongside the discussions held at three roundtable events that we are hosting will be shared with central Government to help shape future iterations of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy.
More information on the events and the results from the survey, can be found here.
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