GM Homes Partnership



Updated: Nov 13

Sam Perrett - Project Manager, GM Homes Partnership

I can’t believe it is November 2020, and the end of the GM Homes programme is less than 6 weeks away. What a three years it has been!

I’m proud to have been involved in such an inspiring and impactful programme. I joined GM Homes in January 2020 and haven’t looked back since! This year hasn’t turned out the way anyone was expecting, and it’s been a strange and worrying time for us all; however, we’ve continued to provide exceptional support to our participants. Not only have we been able to help them through the pandemic, we have also supported them in continuing recoveries, settling into accommodation, preparing for training and work and looking to a positive future.

With the end of the programme now in sight, I thought now would be a good time to look back over the last three years, at how the GM Homes Partnership has really come together and worked collaboratively to support some of the most vulnerable people in Greater Manchester, and to look forward to what is in store for the future.

Andy Burnham speaking at our One Year celebration, December 2018

In 2017 we set out with a vision to support as many people experiencing homelessness as possible into secure accommodation, accompanied by intensive wrap-around support that could help them overcome any barriers they faced and rebuild their independence.

We’ve now supported 356 former rough sleepers into accommodation, and our delivery partners Shelter, Great Places and The Brick have worked closely with housing providers, statutory services and local charities across Greater Manchester in order to provide the best possible wrap-around support.

One of the key drivers of success has been the strength of the partnership. Without the dedication of our delivery partners, and the commitment from housing providers across Greater Manchester, we would not have achieved the success we have.

At times this hasn’t been easy. Delivery partners have had to work creatively, using an strengths-based and personalised approach in order to gain the trust of many participants, and this has often taken time. Fortunately, our ethos at GM Homes has always been that once people are on the programme, their case is never closed. If the support offered isn’t working, we’ve been able to try different approaches in order to find what is right for each individual.

Being able to give a person a second, third and fourth chance, if needed, has had real benefits. It was clear early on in the programme that sometimes the first option sometimes doesn’t work out, and we’ve had the flexibility to try different approaches – for example offer managed moves in order to find the right outcome. There’s been no such thing as a failure; we’ve just had to find the right solution.

One of our participants settling into his new home

Housing providers across Greater Manchester have worked flexibly from the word go, adapting allocations policies to support people who would have previously been refused access to social housing. And these providers have carried this ethos forward by adopting a trauma-informed approach when supporting tenants and looking at alternative ways of managing tenancies.

2020 has been a challenging year. In March 2020 we identified at the earliest point the risk of COVID-19 to our participants, many of whom were classed as extremely vulnerable due to underlying health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies, and a history of rough sleeping. Within days, delivery partners were providing all participants with mobile phones to prevent isolation, plus food, medication and essential household items as well as things to keep them entertained during lockdown. This has continued ever since and has ensured participants remain safe and secure wherever they are housed. Having such strong working relationships with participants on the programme has enabled delivery partners to ensure they have everything they need, and can ask for help when needed. Despite the challenges, we’ve still managed to support people with managed moves to protect them from exploitation, moved people from rough sleeping into secure accommodation, and helped people to access training and employment opportunities, drug and alcohol services and essential mental health support.

Some of our participants using their skills to renovate a sheltered scheme in June 2019

Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’ll be sharing some of this throughout December, along with updates from some of the frontline staff who have been the driving force of the GM Homes programme. Keep an eye out on Twitter!

So, what happens when the programme finishes in December, I hear you ask…?

The focus over the last six months has been preparing people for the future and life after the programme. Each participant has an exit strategy, individual to them based on their circumstances and needs. We’ve worked closely with housing providers, statutory services and local authorities to co-ordinate ongoing support where needed and to ensure each participant is prepared for the future. One thing we’ve learnt over the last three years is the importance of partnership working and collaboration, and we’re making sure that this continues into 2021 and beyond.

We’ve learnt so much since 2017 and achieved some amazing results for the people we have supported. There’s so much great work continuing to support people facing and experiencing homelessness across Greater Manchester and beyond. We will be sharing our learning as far and wide as possible, in order to continue to support as many people as possible and influence policy and system change wherever we can.

In May we shared a programme update, focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how Delivery Partners and participants have reacted to the crisis and lockdown. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, the update can be found here.

COVID-19 update

A month down the line and Delivery Partners continue to provide essential support to all participants virtually, however very recently some face-to-face contact has started to be re-introduced where appropriate, and where social distancing can be maintained safely.

The majority of participants have been very grateful for the support being provided, and more and more are now demonstrating their new found independence and ability to sustain a tenancy, something they would only have dreamed of prior to starting the SIB programme.

Exit planning

This is extremely positive news considering the programme draws to a close at the end of December 2020. The focus over the remainder of the year is the programme’s exit strategy, which aims to minimise the risk of any participant returning to rough sleeping, focusing on seven main themes:

1. In depth cohort analysis, assessing the current risk of each participant returning to rough sleeping.

2. Individual exit strategies for each engaging participant, ensuring everyone has access to the necessary support outside of the SIB programme.

3. Implementation of ‘SIB Principles’ Action Plan for housing providers (referred to in March’s newsletter) to ensure the flexible ways of working continue when supporting and housing tenants with complex needs and vulnerabilities.

4. Ongoing support to access employment, training and education opportunities.

5. Managing impact of COVID-19.

6. Learning from experience in order to feedback to partners and commissioners.

7. Post programme monitoring and review in order to truly measure the success of the programme and exit strategy.

All partners are now well underway with implementing the key actions within the exit strategy. One of the key elements of the exit strategy’s success will be the continuation of the strong relationships between all partners, including our commissioners (GMCA), Delivery Partners, Local Authorities, housing providers and statutory services.

This was identified very early on in the programme, and has been built upon ever since. It is these relationships that have enabled the programme to be as successful as it has been to date, surpassing initial targets and so far supporting 324 formally rough sleepers into permanent accommodation.

Case studies

Ryan's family story

Ryan faced many challenges before he found the SIB. As a young man, he faced homelessness, mental issues and drug addiction.  Great Places helped him to start tackling his issues, find his first home and now, he's been able to start his new family. Read about Ryan's story by clicking here.

How Matt* started a new chapter

Having spent most of his adult life in custody, Matt was in a bad state both mentally and physically when we first made contact with him. 

Shelter worked with Matt on his drug addiction, his physical health and his job prospects, and now he's on his way to becoming self-employed. Read about Matt's story.

Supporting participants through COVID-19

The pandemic has understandably stalled the recovery of some of our participants, including Robert*.

The Brick needed to think outside the box when it came to supporting Robert through lockdown, and by understanding his personal needs and tailoring their support appropriately, Robert is now starting to feel more confident in himself. Find out more by reading our case study

  • GMHP

In these difficult and challenging times, we wanted to provide an update on the Social Impact Bond, and how the project is working during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has had a direct impact on the lives of everyone in the country, and we’ve all had to make adjustments to ways we live and work.

The people that we work with have complex needs, making them some of the most vulnerable in society, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major concern to all those working with entrenched rough sleepers across Greater Manchester.

Our Delivery Partners – Shelter, Great Places and The Brick – are extremely experienced in providing an effective and personalised support service to vulnerable individuals that have, and are still, experiencing homelessness. However they have had to adapt to new and innovative ways of ensuring the people they are working with are safe and supported, whatever their current circumstances.

Everyone engaging with the programme has experienced different challenges, and recently services they have relied upon have started to close, face to face contact and home visits they looked forward to have stopped and newly built confidence is being put to the test in ways nobody could have predicted.

Our Delivery Partners were very quick to adapt their service delivery after having to dramatically reduce face-to-face contact in line with Government advice. Within a matter of days they were making arrangements to ensure that every participant had, and continues to have:

· Access to a mobile phone and credit so they can be contacted as regularly as necessary

· Access to prescribed medication, food and household essentials

· Power to their home

· A home is that is comfortable, making it a place they want to isolate and spend time in. This has included providing white goods and home furnishings

· Access to support services (drug, alcohol, mental health) as and when required

· Regular up-to-date advice and guidance

· Friendly, personalised support whenever required

This support has been very gratefully received by the vast majority of participants, and feedback has been very positive at this early stage. The challenges faced throughout this period have given participants an opportunity to demonstrate their resilience and independence, and with support from Delivery Partners, they have continued to develop whilst adhering to Government advice, keeping themselves and others safe. With the project due to come to an end in December 2020, it gives confidence that beyond this, participants will continue to develop and sustain their tenancies.

Good news stories continue to be shared, and this is great to see and is really uplifting to everyone working on the project. A participant within Manchester has recently taken the opportunity during a two-week isolation to safely detox from alcohol, with the support of Shelter. Not only was this successful, but he has continued his abstinence, and is now feeling very positive about the future.

Great Places have supported a participant who has taken the opportunity to detox from heroin, and after successfully maintaining this, he has gone on to refer himself to mental health services to continue his development. This would not have been possible only a matter of months ago.

In some cases, the additional time and contact has allowed for some great conversations between support staff and participants and they have reported the service delivered has actually become more person-centred in some cases.

It has allowed Delivery Partners to become creative with the ways they are working. A great example of this comes from The Brick. A member of the team in Wigan has started buying the same newspaper as one participant, and they have been completing the weekly crossword over the phone as well as playing online games together.

Delivery Partners are working closely with housing partners, Local Authorities and support agencies in order to maintain and coordinate effective support for participants during this crisis. What has been demonstrated is the desire, across the region, to support vulnerable residents; and this response has, so far, minimised the negative impact of such a devastating pandemic.

Despite service delivery being affected in a way nobody could have predicted, it has brought the best out of caring and person-centred support staff within each Delivery Partner. Not only have they continued to achieve contracted outcomes, but they have helped support many participants achieve so much more through this challenging time.

©2018 by Greater Manchester Homes Partnership.