At Haven First we are committed to providing a life-changing service to as many people as possible across the area. On average, Haven First has to turn down 520pa referrals primarily due to a lack of available bed space. The majority of referrals are for individuals in the age range 18-25. Over the period 2008-2011, Haven First helped on average 70 residents each year at our Stevenage hostel.
It is always our aim to ensure that all of our residents move onto suitable move-on accommodation when they are fully ready to do so. Due to the nature of what we do and who we support it is inevitable that some will either choose to move out before they are ready or be asked to leave. We have increased our success rate for clients starting our Day services in 2004 with the number of residents completing a successful planned move - on increasing from 46% in 2004 to 84% in 2011. (NB the above figures are for our hostel in Stevenage).
Housing Support Workers
Our trained, dedicated support workers actively engage with clients on entry and at regular support plan review meetings. They assess the individuals' needs relating to housing, health and working towards employment. From the initial assessment, they work together to develop an action plan which signposts relevant internal and external support and activities. Housing Support Workers also help address day-to-day issues, for example looking at budgeting and addiction problems. In addition they work with the client and their Outreach Worker to look for suitable move-on accommodation.
In-house support services
Key to the services available to hostel residents is a programme known as It's Your Move. This focuses on five areas of support.
- be healthy - healthy eating, dealing with alcohol and drugs, sexual health and accessing health care
- economic wellbeing - budgeting, dealing with debt, paying bills, accessing safer credit and setting up bank accounts
- enjoy and achieve - identifying training needs including basic skills, writing CVs and preparing for interviews
- making a positive contribution - accessing voluntary placements, valuing diversity, service user involvement and getting the most out of support staff
- staying safe - housing options, dealing with tenancy issues, preventing accidents in the home and issues with neighbours.
Clients are able to access a range of activities relevant to achieving the above, some of which are delivered in partnership with other organisations such as the local college. They include pre-tenancy training, art and craft sessions, counselling and leisure activities.
The improved facilities associated with the new Stevenage hostel have enabled us to provide more extensive in-house training and other support activities.
Cold weather provision
During adverse weather, typically from December to March, we make use of communal areas in the hostels to provide overnight accommodation for rough sleepers. In addition, they are offered general advice on issues relating to health and finding secure accommodation.
Outreach working (floating support)
This service was introduced in 2007 with a team which has been funded by a government initiative known as Supporting People (now Housing Related Support) in addition to grants from a number of charitable trusts. We currently employ two floating support workers who are there to maintain contact with ex-residents from the hostels who have moved into the local community. There is a team member based in each hostel so that clients can build relationships before they move on. The main focus of floating support is to prevent people feeling isolated and also help them deal with issues such as bills, budgeting and threats to their tenancy. A number of ex-residents from our Stevenage hostel have managed to avoid eviction as a result of this service. Resourcing of the team is likely to be extended to deal with increased demand from the new hostel in Stevenage and the hostel we now manage in Hitchin.
A recent development in outreach work is to offer help to vulnerable individuals at risk of eviction with a view of preventing homelessness. We will work with private landlords, local authorities and support agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau.
Substance Misuse Support
In 2018 we introduced our first Substance Misuse specialist to work with residents living with addiction. Having this expertise in house has allowed us to provide a more tailored and specialist support journey, ensuring we are able to take on work with individuals with more complex issues.
Sports Mentoring Programme
In 2017 we brought the expertise of a qualified Sports coach and mentor to work with our clients on a more structured and regular basis. Activities include football, boxing, swimming, badminton and other physical activities. These activities allow residents to work on their physical as well as mental wellbeing.
Outreach Support Work (Street Homelessness)
In 2017 we began a dedicated Outreach programme in Hitchin working with those experiencing street homelessness. This service allows us to support rough sleepers to find temporary accommodation and support. Through this scheme we also support individuals at imminent risk of homelessness to ensure they are receiving the correct support they are entitled to, with the aim of avoiding them being registered as homeless.