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Starts at Home Day 2023: an image of our Keystone House service.

Posted01.09.23

Starts at Home Day 2023: Let’s celebrate what supported housing can do, and know what it can’t

Today is Starts at Home Day: an annual event that aims to highlight the impact that supported housing has on communities across the country.

In a year when homelessness has risen, and London’s rough sleeping numbers have reached their highest in a decade, this day of activity and awareness-raising assumes even greater importance.

Supported housing is a vital tool in the fight against homelessness. The provision of accommodation helps get people off the streets, and the support delivered alongside that allows them to build a new future for themselves. This model reflects the fact that homelessness can have significant physical and psychological impacts which take both time and tailored support to move on from. People may require assistance with physical health, mental wellbeing, finding work, reconnecting with family, or any number of other things.

This work can only be delivered by supported housing services, and it takes teams of dedicated professionals to do so: from housekeepers to support workers, therapists, resettlement officers and maintenance staff. As such, it is crucial that our sector continues to receive the funding it needs to operate. We are a key part of many people’s journey out of homelessness, and this must be understood and reflected by decision-makers both at a local level and a national level.

However, like any service there are limits to what we can achieve, and we are inevitably impacted by the environment in which we work. We can provide a safe space for people, and work with them to find their own independent homes, but that process only works if there are homes available to move into. We are regularly finding that this is not the case, and that people who have worked hard to leave homelessness behind cannot move on fully, because there are no suitable housing options.

We have customers who have found new jobs, transformed their lifestyles and even changed their social circles in order to move forward with their lives, only to discover that they cannot find anywhere to move to. They sometimes have no choice but to settle for places they don’t like, or that are in inconvenient locations – if they can find anywhere at all. Not only does this hold back their journey out of homelessness, but is also slows down the rate at which supported housing providers can provide rooms to new people.

More must be done. London needs more affordable homes available to buy and rent, and greater oversight of the private rented sector to prevent people having to accept poor quality homes with the constant possibility of eviction.

We are certainly seeing movement on these issues in the form of new government legislation and renewed home-building efforts in London. We should take heart from such efforts but continue to push for faster change. The more people can find affordable homes, and the more they feel secure and happy in those homes, the more effectively organisations like ours can set people up for new lives.

Supported housing organisations play a key role in London’s response to homelessness. Our sector is full of passionate, dedicated and talented people, who give their all to the people they support every single day. We should celebrate this, and also note that we sit in a much wider environment with many different actors. When we all act together, we can make a real difference.

You can read more about Starts at Home Day here.

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