Community engagement is used as an active method of implementing change
Community engagement refers to individuals that come together and form a group, hence the term ‘community’. A community is a group of people that come together that have a common set of goals, values, and work together to achieve those common goals. While community organizing involves the process of building a grassroots movement involving communities, community engagement primarily deals with the practice of moving communities toward change, usually from a stalled or similarly suspended position.
We live in a huge extended community of thousands of different people, races, religions and social situations, we believe there is no reason we cannot all come together and enrich our community, surroundings and environment for those who are in crisis, struggling with addiction, exploitation and homelessness. Our aim going forward is to find new and exciting ways to bring people together, dispelling misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding homelessness.
Community engagement has the power to transform our region.
We believe people should not be allowed to become homeless, and that to properly tackle the issue of homelessness, its root causes need to be addressed. Our campaign #openup aims to highlight these issues and encourage sensible and open conversations about how we can all tackle these.
The Government’s approach to preventing homelessness
The 2002 Homelessness Act brought in new requirements for local authorities to assess and prevent homelessness in their local areas, and marked the start of a renewed Government focus on homelessness prevention. New housing applicants are now typically required to participate in an initial ‘housing options’ interview. This involves a discussion of ways in which their immediate housing need could be met. Sometimes this means that no homelessness application is made.
- Young people who have been living with family or friends and have been asked to leave may be offered mediation with a view to enabling them to return
- People who experience domestic violence are offered ‘sanctuary schemes’, involving the installation of security measures within the home
- Young people leaving the family home may be offered supported lodgings schemes where members of the community provide a room as temporary respite accommodation
- A significant part of this new preventative approach involves referring households to the private rented sector, often facilitating the move through payment of rent deposits
- Local authorities will also provide general housing advice on available services, housing options, housing benefit and rent arrears.
We believe that if the Government is serious about preventing homelessness then more needs to be done at an earlier stage to stop people falling into crisis in the first place. In particular, better ongoing support needs to be made available for those who need it, and more affordable social housing must be made available in areas where demand currently outstrips supply.
We believe that a housing first option must be considered by the government for those people who have significant housing needs and before they hit crisis.
Our criteria for help here at HHCP are those affected by, at risk of, or currently homeless are people we set out to assist. Homelessness is a wide ranging diverse social issue, with many misconceptions and stereotypes, and as such we must be equipped to tackle it in all its forms and best support those at risk of hitting crisis.
We are very different in our approach to rough sleepers than many services as we do not simply just check on rough sleepers to ensure they are safe but we also provide advocacy and companionship, this could be from arranging appointments and advocating in them, ensuring they meet appointments and also taking them if needed. We arrange social activities and provide volunteering opportunities for those making positive next steps. Street homelessness is just the tip of a very large iceberg, many different people can be and are affected by issues that can mean they end up in a homeless situation or at the very least at risk of becoming homeless.
Equality and diversity are an important part of a thriving community; we all have a part to play in making our local areas what we want them to be, a community is only as strong as the people in it.
We work heavily with families, children and vulnerable women; one way we do this is by providing a drop in service weekly for women who are vulnerable and at risk of homelessness, re offending or fresh out of prison. We do this in partnership with the Together Women Project (TWP) and Humberside Probation Service. The service ranges from finding accommodation, practical move on support such as furniture, white goods, grant finding, probation support, helping with benefits or rent arrears, food parcels, or simply a none judgmental ear to talk to.
With families and children we work with social services, family shelters, the councils leaving care team, the looked after care team and the courts to name a few. We provide expert accommodation support where other services do not have the knowledge or resources to do so. We help support families into independent living after being in supported living mostly, as the local authority and many services cannot provide any assistance with move-ons such as furniture or white goods and essentials. We gather donations from the public to furnish our client’s houses for free, this builds on our commitment to community engagement and social action, helping everyone have a say in how our community is ran and managed.
We pay for white goods and claim it back in the form of a small grant, or we help individuals to apply for community care grants and other funding grants. We do not expect a family to wait weeks and weeks before they can wash, cook or clean etc. We also provide this service for single adults and care leavers as they are faced with the same problems.
The reason we do this is we need people to settle back in to Independence successfully to minimize the risk of them returning to homelessness, moving into a bare empty flat on your own and having the responsibility of your own care is very hard for a lot of people that have been ‘looked after’ and the shock can bring back poor mental health, self doubt, anxiety, substance abuse and it’s not long before all that hard work is undone.
If a person loses a successful tenancy and ends up back in care or street homeless It is then so much harder to get someone back to that point because they think they will fail again, this is known as the revolving door of homelessness. We exist to stop this repeated cycle many people face from inappropriate support or not fitting the criteria for traditional support.
We aim to be as available to as many organisations as possible to help them with their clients accommodation and welfare needs, a strong support network for charitable and community organisations is vital to tackle the vast array of social issues we face in our modern world.
Once we have moved someone or a family back into independent living we then do something we call Community outreach, this is to ensure they stay on track, do not feel abandoned and start to struggle. Sadly many people that have been helped move forward from their care or temporary accommodation settings expect there to be little follow on support as there hasn’t been in the past. We think this is not good enough and we are determined to make a change in expectations across our region and the UK. For Sofa surfers we provide exactly the same support above, as we do with care leavers and prison leavers, veterans and anyone else.
Modern slavery and exploitation are a big problem in the Humber region with the links to homelessness being substantial. As such we are part of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership (HMSP) with safeguarding boards, police and other specialist services to tackle slavery, share intelligence, support victims and raise awareness of the problem.
We are the only Homeless organisation to actively sit on the partnership and to look at the links between homelessness and slavery.
For specific sexual exploitation we work as part of the on street task force with Humberside police and specialist women’s services to identify victims, monitor prostitution and trafficking. Many of the women are facing or at risk of being in a homeless situation, some of them currently are.