Understanding homelessness under the new political regime: What comes next? Conference

Understanding homelessness under the new political regime: What comes next? Conference

This joint conference aimed to provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges and identify a way forward for ending homelessness in the context of a new political regime, and with the benefit of lessons from research carried out in the North East and elsewhere.

There was a full day’s discussion with key note speeches, workshops, a video and displays of material from a range of homelessness and housing organisations. The themes for the event were chosen along the lines of the NEHTT Homelessness Charter developed before the General Election – this can be read here. The presentations for all speakers, plenary session presenters, and workshop sessions are set out below.

Slide Packs from the Day
Introduction Slides – Val Keen, Youth Homeless Advisor, St.Basils

Keynote: Understanding homelessness under the new political regime – Jon Sparkes, CEO Crisis

Young People’s Perspective – Mike Clark, Chair of YHNE

YHNE: Findings of the 2015 Survey of Youth Homelessness in the NE – Adele Irving, Research Fellow, Northumbria University

Workshops AM:
Youth Housing Charter, Young people’s evaluation – Young people with Kieran Platts, Project Assistant, YHNE and Herbie Cooper, Your Homes Newcastle
Measuring single homelessness – Sheila Spencer, NEHTT and Sharon Brown, Regional Manager, YHNE
Housing Benefit for young people – Ruth O’Sullivan, Campaigns Officer, Centrepoint

NEHTT Research Sanctions; Is there an alternative? – Dr Jamie Harding, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Science and Languages, Northumbria University

NEHTT: Sanctions Video
The NEHTT research has highlighted the increasing difficulty and disengagement for homeless people as a result of benefit sanctions, and the consequent problems for the organisations working with them. This video highlights the recommendations from the research.

’Benefit Sanctions, is there another way?’

’Benefit Sanctions, is there another way?’

NEHTT have been funded by the Northern Rock Foundation to conduct research to:

 Develop a robust understanding of the administration and impact of benefit sanctions in relation to vulnerable people in the North East, and develop an alternative vision for the benefits system which both supports people into work and prevents homelessness.

 The research project commenced in January this year and was launched July 16th 2015.

Why we conducted the research

Prior to conducting the researchNEHTT members, collectively and individually, had been engaged in several programmes of work looking at the impacts of welfare reform. One of the single biggest issues arising from this is benefit sanctions. The number of sanctions being applied has increased significantly under the new welfare regime, with a disproportionate affect on vulnerable groups, such as homeless people, young people and offenders. For many, sanctions are increasing the risk of homelessness, and resulting in people being trapped in homelessness for longer periods of time. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that they are impacting on physical and emotional wellbeing through food and fuel poverty and increased household stress, as well as levels of crime and illegal money lending. These findings sit alongside a number of other studies which have discussed the administration, claimants’ understanding and the impacts, of benefit sanctions. However, a robust picture of the scale and impacts of this in the North East (and nationally) had yet to be established.

 

The Full research report can be viewed here:  Benefit Sanctions and Homelessness

 

The NEHTT research has highlighted the increasing difficulty and disengagement for homeless people as a result of benefit sanctions, and the consequent problems for the organisations working with them. This video highlights the recommendations from the research.

Youth Housing Strategy

Youth Housing Strategy

During 2008, YHNE undertook a comprehensive consultation exercise looking at the issues and solutions to youth homelessness in the region. We hosted a consultation event, gaining the views of over 40 service providers and a number of service users. In July 2008, YHNE joined with partners from Government Office for the North East and the North East Housing Board to organise a summit for more than 25 housing associations, elected members, strategic partnership chairs and support providers to agree five priority shared solutions to tackle youth homelessness in the region.

A Regional Position Statement published in September 2008 and endorsed by the North East Housing Board reported on the findings of the summit and outlined the five shared solutions identified:

  1. Improve quality of temporary and supported accommodation to “Places of Change” ethos. ‘good quality homeless accommodation which creates better tenants and changes lives’. 
  2. Increase early intervention work in schools and with families, learning from best practice already existing in the region.
  3. Strengthen partnership working at a regional level, through strategy and policy which sets targets and draws together capital and revenue streams.
  4. Explore local and regional solutions to obstacles posed by transition it adulthood.
  5. Improve and make transparent accountability for all providers in meeting the needs of young homeless people.

The strategy is based on the premise that;

‘If we only provide homeless services to young people, we’ll only get homeless young people.’  Youth Homeless Adviser, DCLG at YHNE Move-on event, 3rd April 2012.

We have therefore produced not a homeless strategy but rather a Regional Youth Housing Strategy that sets out our plans to address young peoples’ housing needs through a coherent regional approach.

The strategy provides a regional context, policy framework and a current picture of youth homelessness.  The strategy is under-pinned by five themes identified by youth homeless services from across the region and endorsed by the North East Housing Board.  It establishes a regional strategic approach and a clear set of actions to delivering those themes across the North East.

Youth Housing Strategy

Youth Housing Charter

Youth Housing Charter

In 2010, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published ‘A young people’s charter on housing’  The Charter was brought to the attention of Youth Homeless NE by Durham Local Authority who are keen to see a similar Charter produced from the perspective of young people who have experienced homelessness and those at risk of homelessness.

A ‘task and finish’ group was established to progress this work; members include Durham Local Authority and two of our Regional Champions, Moving On and the Youth Independence Forum (Your Homes Newcastle). Our Regional Champions are involved to facilitate the active involvement of young people in determining the process, carrying out the research and producing a final Youth Housing Charter. The Charter has been informed by young people from across the region through our other Regional Champions and Barnardos Participation Team.

The Charter expresses the housing experiences, needs and aspirations of homeless young people and inform YHNE Regional Youth Housing Strategy. The Youth Housing Charter has been adopted by Durham Local Authority Housing Solutions Team, we are now working to ensure the Charter is adopted by all North East local authorities and wider service providers.

We also worked with young people in 2013 to produce a ‘young person friendly’ version of the Charter for distribution by youth homeless services across the region.

The Youth Housing Charter is available to download here