In this edition, Sarah Cooke, the GM Homes Partnership Project Manager, gives her insight into how the project is going as we reach our central point, and shares the most important lessons the partnership has learned.
What have we learned so far?
As we find ourselves at the central point of our programme, it feels like an appropriate time to consider what we have learnt so far. Reaching this stage has been challenging for all involved; the participants, delivery partners, housing providers and other homelessness service colleagues, as we pulled together across Greater Manchester to get the best outcomes for the individuals we’re supporting.
Getting to know our participants and seeking to understand their levels of complexities, past experiences and needs has been a steep learning curve for all of us. When we began planning for this programme our model was based on an ambition to make a change and after delivering for eighteen months, we have much more knowledge and insight into the needs of our participants and their personal challenges. This enables us to review, adapt and alter our model again and again in response to individuals and strengthens our understanding of what it takes to build trust and meaningful relationships.
We have learnt how long it takes for someone to be ready to access a home, how complex health and wellbeing needs can be, how deep-set mistrust in services can be, how lonely people find moving away from their established communities and how determined individuals are to take the first step towards independence and away from the streets.
But this very step can be the point at which we lose them when the prospect of managing the home they’ve longed for becomes too much to deal with. We’ve learnt the first home isn’t always the right home and that this doesn’t mean someone has failed, we just haven’t found what works yet.
We’ve learnt that it can take months or even years for someone to feel confident enough to address their mental health needs and the point of entering or sustaining treatment can be terrifying when years of deep-rooted traumatic experiences, potentially hidden since childhood, are brought to the forefront of someone’s daily life.
We have felt the impact of welfare reform law, closure of local drug and alcohol services, increased mental health referral thresholds and lack of available properties which are all beyond our control, but each hindering an individual’s long-term independence when, after finally moving into their own home, administrative Universal Credit errors have almost resulted in an eviction, despite their own determination to succeed.
Most importantly of all we have learnt that nothing can be achieved in isolation. The strength of the partnership, willingness to listen and rip up the rule book has been the bedrock of our success. This collaboration, trust and flexibility underpins every outcome achieved with individuals who may not have trusted anyone for years finally believing in us and themselves once more.
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