To work collaboratively, to increase supported housing provisions and to raise awareness to ensure people know when to approach and where to go for help – these were some of the top points raised at the 2018 Homeless Summit, which was organised by the joint housing service of Malvern Hills and Wychavon District Councils.
Photo: Jack Hegarty (Managing Director of Wychavon District Council); Jean Templeton (Chief Executive of St Basils); Boris Worrall (Chief Executive of Rooftop Housing Group); Nicola Forsdyke (Homeless Advisor at the Ministry Housing, Communities and Local Government). All of them are alongside the joint co-operation protocol, which many attendees signed-up to.
The summit, which took place on 16 February and was hosted by Wychavon, brought together other housing partners from across South Worcestershire including Wychavon and Malvern Hills District Councils, Worcester City Council, Worcestershire County Council, Rooftop Housing and Fortis Living. St Paul’s Hostel and Citizens Advice Bureau were also part of the summit, at which the main focus was on hearing about the changes taking place due to the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will officially come into force in April.
Those attending heard presentations from a number of key guests on the issues of homelessness and the Homelessness Reduction Act.
Nicola Forsdyke, Homelessness Advisor at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, gave an overview of the Act and how it will be implemented. This included the new duties that councils will be undertaking to improve the prevention and the relief of homelessness.
Meanwhile, Jean Templeton, the Chief Executive of St Basils – the West Midlands charity working with young people who are homeless or at risk of coming homeless – spoke about the impact of the Act on young people and the aim to establish a local multi-agency approach for those in crisis so they get the help they need, when they need it.
Attendees also heard from Rooftop Housing Group Chief Executive, Boris Worrall, who spoke about the importance of partnership working and how there needs to be a focus on the commitment of all agencies working together, especially as cuts have been seen across a great deal of services making a joined up approach ever more important. A joint co-operation protocol was proposed, with many partners signing up to take this proposal further.
Councillor Richard Morris, portfolio holder for housing at Wychavon District Council, said: “For local authorities, this is one of the biggest changes there has been in housing and to the work we do to help homeless people in over 20 years. It puts a bigger emphasis on us preventing homelessness, which means we will now have more responsibilities to help people at risk at a much earlier stage and for a longer period of time.
Photo: Jack Hegarty (Managing Director of Wychavon District Council) with Councillor Richard Morris, alongside the same joint co-operation protocol.
“Over 65 partners attended from a wide range of agencies and organisations and great ideas were discussed on effective partnership working and possible creative solutions, such as flats above shops, student type accommodation for use by young people and support for rural households to prevent social isolation. All of the discussions from the day will now be written up and a plan developed.”
Councillor Morris added: “There is no doubt that close partnership working in both preparation and implementation will be vital to us ensuring that we continue to see a decline in the amount of homeless people in Wychavon and wider South Worcestershire.”
Elaine Salter, Joint Housing Services Manager for Malvern Hills and Wychavon District Councils, said: “We are committed to preventing homelessness, where possible, by helping people keep their homes or by helping them find safe and secure accommodation. We can offer practical solutions to prevent homelessness and our aim is to take action and work with people before their housing needs reach crisis point or result in homelessness.”
If people have any concerns for themselves, their family or friends about being made homeless, they should contact Wychavon’s housing team by calling 01386 565020 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
. Further advice can also be found at www.wychavon.gov.uk/homeless-advice