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.