Macedon developed the Lottery-funded Move On Support Team (MOST) to help former homeless people stay in their own accommodation.
Framework inherited this innovative approach to keeping former homeless people independent: the idea of early intervention to prevent the crisis of homelessness occurring came later, encouraged by government policy.
Tenancy sustainment services took off in 2002/03 – anticipating the introduction of the Supporting People programme on 1 April 2003. The organisation recognised the opportunity and Framework’s combined resources following the merger meant that staff were available to respond to the government’s ‘once and for all’ invitation to identify need and create new services to meet it. Framework worked closely with local authorities and other agencies to ensure that vulnerable people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire were adequately served when the new funding regime was introduced. This led to the rapid growth of new services especially in Nottinghamshire.
The 2003/04 Annual Report stated: “Framework’s support services are no longer confined to hostels and day centres: Supporting People, with its emphasis on maximising independence, has taken them into the community.
“Framework has two Tenancy Sustainment teams in each of the seven County [Boroughs and] Districts. Both offer practical support (eg help with budgeting, correspondence, cleaning, cooking, lifeskills and the responsibility of a tenancy) to help individuals and families to secure their tenancy and maintain an independent lifestyle. Staff in partner agencies are thus able to focus on their specialist work.”
House-hold, a Tenancy Sustainment service for clients with mental health problems, was developed in partnership with Nottinghamshire Social Services. The other County service, known as Tenancy Sustainment, was available to anyone facing housing difficulties including people with particular needs relating to, for example, substance misuse or offending behaviour. In Nottingham, Tenancy Sustainment teams were attached to accommodation and day centre services to support clients through their resettlement.
The House-hold service developed a ‘lower tier’ for people needing less intensive but longer term support; in Nottingham a volunteer befriending scheme helps people who might become socially isolated and in south Nottinghamshire a Carer’s Break service reduced social isolation among service users and carers.
Preventing the pain of homelessness
A key development of the county generic floating support service in 2004/05 was the appointment of a non-practising barrister as Framework’s Specialist Housing Advisor: she has had many successes in preventing people losing their homes, has trained several support workers to become expert in challenging claims by lenders and landlords and has made case law.
The Specialist Housing Advisor attends court to represent service users and to support anyone who has a claim by a lender or landlord which might threaten their home. By providing the right legal advice she has successfully defended claims or achieved an adjournment to give time to maximise the client’s income or find a solution that reduces or removes the threat of homelessness.
In 2007/08 the credit crunch rapidly increased the number of owner occupiers facing the possibility of losing their homes. This led to the development of the Crisis Team – linking housing advice and support under the supervision of the Specialist Housing Advisor – in which tenancy support workers respond quickly to urgent situations including challenging repossession proceedings. Eleven regular drop-in surgeries to address complex financial problems were introduced across the county and effective links with private landlords established.
To reduce preventable hospital admission and support people with mental health problems being discharged from acute wards, a Crisis Link service was introduced by House-hold teams across Nottinghamshire.
In Nottingham, also during 2007/08, Framework, acting alone and as developer and leader of local consortia, won several contracts with the Nottingham Supporting People Team to deliver a range of tenancy support services – for people with alcohol and drug problems, offenders, teenage parents, families and single people and, for the first time, gypsies and travellers. To help people gain access to the range of new services Framework established the Central Access Point which enables people to make contact by phone, email, text or in person to maximise accessibility.
Framework’s track record in delivering floating support services helped win tenders to deliver its first services outside Nottinghamshire: Framework floating support services in Derbyshire, Doncaster and Lincolnshire became operational in 2010 and 2011 respectively.