Community

Housing help for those in need

Our resident blogger, Andy Wynn, spent an interesting morning with the team of 16:25IndependantPeople recently, a housing charity that works throughout South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

Here he writes about how you can help support a young person in your home with help from this fantastic local organisation…

hearts

A small, unassuming shop front office sits on The Parade serving as the focal point for 16:25’s operations in South Glos.

Covering a surprising number of areas of need, currently, 16:25IP is supporting 90 people across South Glos. with a range of requirements. The team of 12 case workers help their clients, all aged between 16 and 25, through the maze that is the current housing and benefits system in this new age of austerity.

As far as I’m aware, as a country, we are currently bravely fighting long term crises on the NHS, Teachers pay, School Funding, the High Street, Housing, Pensions, Benefits, Utilities Costs, Average Wages Vs Inflation, Gender Equality and of course the seemingly constant claims from all sides of the political spectrum that Brexit, or more specifically the specific ‘type’ of Brexit will cause, or solve, or have no effect on, whichever crisis is de-jour for the week.

Each of these matters make issues harder to solve for charities like 16:25IP, providing services that are in the grey area around the edge of what many of us may assume that ‘the council’ would do. Providing signposting, and training, and intensive support and a million different little services that make a world of difference to those in need.

And so here we are in our area of South Gloucestershire. Thinking about crises and how they are linked and how we fair locally.

At the end of this blog you can find figures and statistics on the current situation in our area.

A place to call home…

Many of us, me included, would assume that if you find yourself in urgent need of help, maybe you’ve been given notice to move out of your privately rented home, or have fallen into arrears and have been evicted, then you should head to your local council office and they will help. Of course, we know there’s not a range of empty houses sat waiting for you, but we would assume that you’d have a roof over your head that evening, most likely a B&B.

It turns out it can be more complicated than that. The council has a duty to house those with “priority need” but for others, the local council has an obligation to ‘assist’ and not necessarily to ‘house’.

Christina Nicholls, the Supported Lodgings Co-Ordinator at 16:25IP explains: “The council has a responsibility to signpost you to help and support and then to put you into the system where you’ll take a place on the list determined by your level of need and your means.

“In reality, you could be referred to a charity like ours, who receives funding from the council for such projects, and it might be us that helps you through the process. With waiting lists so high and resources pushed to the max, more and more people are relying on private rented accommodation and local landlords.”

can you help text write on blackboard

The Supported Lodgings Service – how you can help

To help bridge the gap, 1625ip have a new service called ‘Support Lodgings’. This initiative is aimed primarily at those leaving care, young people who have had challenging lives but, for this project, have an element of drive and maturity. They need a helping hand, a parent figure in all but name.

16:25IP helps to setup an arrangement, once the young people have left the care of Social Services.

They are looking for people in the local community to get involved and offer support and an allowance of up to £175 per week.

“A local family with a spare room will take the young person into their home, give them a room, a key etc. and will help them develop as adults. It might be as simple as showing them how to cook, or how to change a lightbulb, or giving them advice on how to dress for a job interview,” explains Christina.

“The young person will still have support from 16:25IP and in these cases, will probably already be in education or training,” she says.

Families who can help young people in this way are paid £175 a week in return for their help, although also often find that it benefits them as well, the learning and personal development can be a two-way process.

But what of those young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs), or who have had more challenging childhoods and are not yet ready to have this kind of support?

“These young people can be accommodated in our flats, these are designed to help young people who need intensive support after leaving the care system.

“In this project, a case worker will meet with the client every day, seven days a week, and provide intensive support, often for several hours a day. This will include taking them shopping or to appointments, teaching them how to be good neighbours and helping them onto training courses and then through the process of trying to find a job.”

“The case worker will also work with various other services to ensure that the young person is getting the structured support that they need,” Christina explains.

Read the second instalment of our two-part blog on 16:25IP here…

Home renovation and construction

The stats in South Glos:

Housing is one of the most high profile of our national crises; let’s take a moment and a bundle of stats from South Glos Council to build a picture…

  • Local unemployment is at 3.4% (Dec ’17) that’s 5,100 people. Lower than the national average at 4.7%
  • This (quarterly) figure is at its second highest in the last three years.
  • Those claiming out of work benefits is 5.2%, or 8,920. (This is different from those being ‘unemployed’)
  • In some sub districts within South Glos. this is as high as 17.8%.
  • There were 4,682 live housing applications on the South Glos. housing register at the end of 2017, with 1,850 added last year.
  • This indicates more than half on the list have been waiting more than six months
  • 113 accepted homelessness applications were taken in the first nine months of the 2017 tax year
  • The latest quarter of available figures show 49 applications – the second highest quarter in the last three years.

 

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