This was a quote from the Service Manager I called in to run the Look Ahead ‘Everyone In’ homeless hotel in Croydon at the start of pandemic.
When you consider the complexity of the people we work with, no set referral process and the thought of people being stuck in a hotel room for 23 hours a day it wasn’t surprising. Yet here we are, eighteen months later, and the hotel is still very much thriving having helped nearly 300 people move on into more permanent accommodation.
This is why, as a large provider of homelessness services in London and the South East, we welcome the recommendations of the Interim Report by Lord Kerslake’s Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping published last month.
As the report rightly highlights, there were so many successes from ‘Everyone In’; successes that we believe should inform policy and the spending review in coming weeks. For us simplicity was key. More than ever as a sector we had an overriding purpose to keep people safe. This common goal allowed us the autonomy and flexibility to respond quickly and work closely together. It allowed for funding to be made available to help those who were most vulnerable at this time without the usual constraints around eligibility for services.
As we reflect on the last 18 months and the findings of the Interim Report, there are two key issues that we would like to see prioritised.
- Investment is crucial. The report sets out many sensible recommendations around the financial investment that is needed to ensure that the momentum of the last 18 months is not lost. Equally, it is anticipated that the sector will be required to respond to an increased demand for services in the coming months as we see an increase in individuals experiencing homelessness, many for the first time, as a result of the pandemic. This will require ongoing capital and multi-year revenue investment to ensure that both accommodation and support is readily available.
- Model of integration. In the sector we have been aware for some time that homelessness and rough sleeping are more than a housing issue, and Look Ahead is a great believer in integrating health into our homelessness offer and has many examples of how this adds value.
We have seen substantial and increased engagement from the health sector – rough sleepers physical health needs have been a priority and partnerships with health have intensified. As the report recommends, Look Ahead are hoping to see NHS and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Operational Guidance that stipulates that Integrated Care Systems and their Integrated Care Partnerships must have a dedicated focus on tackling healthcare for people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping. We are seeking out opportunities to become involved in Integrated Care Systems as we strongly believe that housing providers will be key partners in ensuring that these systems adequately consider the needs of the homeless population.
Whatever the future brings, in a roundabout way, the pandemic has provided a lifeline for many rough sleepers. Let’s hope that the recommendations in the report are adopted and that the time and commitment invested by the sector doesn’t go to waste.
Look Ahead Care is a leading provider of over 110 specialist care, support and housing services in London and the South East, including for people who are homeless or have complex needs. Find out more (opens new window).
And, if you found this blog of interest, you can also read a range of other resources on homelessness and rough sleeping on the Housing LIN’s dedicated webpages.
Lastly, if you would like to find out more about how the Housing LIN can provide you with bespoke support, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org