Working with current residents, ex-residents and rough sleepers, The Connect Services Team works with the homeless communities of Stevenage and North Hertfordshire to provide support and advice on life after and beyond Haven First. A key aspect of the team is the connections that are facilitated to external and internal agencies who address multiple issues including: domestic violence, mental health, substance misuse recovery, disabilities, family/ relationship breakdown, redundancies etc.
Click below to learn more about what the team provides.
AND WHAT WE DO
Who are we & what do we do?
The Connect Services Team works with the people who need our help beyond our residential sites. The department started up as the 'Floating Support Team' and works by helping the residents of our residential projects to 'move on' into one of our 'move on properties', or into other independent housing which is evaluated and approved by the team.
That support also then extends beyond the 'move on' as the team continue to stay in touch with the ex-residents, ensuring they are sustaining their tenancies and pursuing positive lifestyles, providing advice and connections to external and internal organisations and services where needed. We are also proud to have extended the Connect Services Team to include an Outreach Worker who was kindly funded by North Herts District Council. The Outreach Worker, works directly with rough-sleepers to encourage them to seek support and shelter whether it's through our own projects or other sheltered accommodation appropriate for ex-rough sleepers. They then continue to ensure those individuals are safe and happy; again, often working with external and internal services such as counselling, substance misuse recovery services and the police to ensure they are safe and stable in their new lives.
As the demand for our services grows, so does the role of this team, we have recently hired a ‘Housing First Worker’ who will work in line with the Housing First scheme to directly move rough sleepers into accommodation and support them through that transition. We also have plans to acquire more properties to add to our move on portfolio and therefore extend our support even further.
We decided to rename the Floating Support Team, Connect Services to reflect this growth and development; and to allow the partnership potential it has for not only our residential clients but also the wider homeless communities of Stevenage and North Hertfordshire.
The team is made up of 6 highly trained support workers:
Connect Services Manager
Senior Connect Services Advisor
Senior Connect Services Advisor
Connect Services Advisor
Housing First Worker
Our Move on projects
We manage a portfolio of 11 move on properties across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire. Two are owned by Haven First meaning we are able to manage and maintain the properties internally. We also manage the tenants of 9 properties owned externally but kindly accessible to our clients.
FH came to Haven First after approaching our Hitchin site and working with our Outreach Worker, R, in December 2019. Having found him and his partner at the time living in a car, it was discovered that as well as substance misuse issues, both him and his partner were engaged in a negative cycle of domestic violence.
R evaluated the pair and decided the best course of action would be to separate them in different hostels in order to work with them individually and therefore target their issues properly. FH was placed in our Hitchin hostel within the Cold Weather Provisions accommodation and then after a short stay there he was offered a full-time bed space. His partner was housed in our Stevenage hostel immediately. R was sure that separating the pair would allow them to address their needs more effectively.
During his time at the Hitchin hostel FH began to work through his issues, signing up to CGL and being placed on ‘the script’; addressing his mental health issues which included a diagnosis of his Borderline Personality Disorder; and also began to tackle his struggles with Epilepsy which saw him having seizures every other night causing him and those around him significant distress.
After a disagreement with staff at the Hitchin hostel it was agreed that FH needed to find somewhere more independent, so he was temporarily housed in a hotel in Stevenage and now has been moved into a room in a property in Stevenage under the guidance of our Connect Services.
Although it is unusual for a client to be moved into a move on property so quickly, it was agreed between the Housing Support Workers in Hitchin, and our Outreach Worker that no progress was going to be made until he was somewhere he felt comfortable, safe and independant.
Since moving into this move on property, FH has begun to really positively respond to all of the programs he is on. He is keeping up with his methadone treatment, having MRI scans to help understand the extent of his epilepsy, and the separation from his previous partner has allowed for them both to really begin positive lifestyles.
CR came to us after being evicted from her house in Stevenage and needing to stay in the area to continue contact with her 5 children. When CR first came to the project she was understandably anxious and took some time to open up to staff, but once she did she reported feeling much more comfortable and ready to tackle the issues that brought her to the project. Dealing with depression and anxiety, CR has found being away from her children difficult but by working with her Housing Support Worker and Connect Services Worker, she has been able to remain positive.
Although apprehensive, CR was moved into a self-contained bedsit in Stevenage in October 2020 where she has enjoyed living independently. Monitored by her Connect Services Worker, CR still works with an internal counselling service once a week and participates in art projects with current residents to keep in touch and help those who are in the same position she was in just months ago. Moving in the middle of a global pandemic would normally be a daunting idea but CR has thrived with the support of the Connect Services Team and is looking forward to using her progress and new-found confidence to move forward with her family.