Agenda and minutes
Venue: Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington
Contact: Fiona Goodfellow Housing and Regeneration (01254 380 195)
Welcome and Introductions
FG opened the meeting by welcoming everyone. Those present introduced themselves and the organisations they represented.
Minutes from November 2016 meeting and matters arising
Lucy Hardwick pointed out that she was present at the last meeting but had been omitted from the Minutes. This was due to not having signed the attendance sheet.
FG pointed out there was no update in relation to the Asylum Seekers. The Council currently has 5 properties occupied which is the number committed to so far.
FG then welcomed Inspector Steve Rides from Lancashire Constabulary who had come along to inform the Forum about the Transforming Lives process and Panel that is currently operating in Hyndburn and across East Lancashire.
The focus of the programme is to identify those individuals who have the potential to be the most demanding on public sector services and to put long-term sustainable interventions in place to prevent them getting into crisis.
Transforming Lives is a multi-agency model of working aiming to deliver better outcomes; reduce demand and lower costs, whilst recognising the importance of involving families and individuals as key partners in delivery.
SR then gave a presentation which is attached to these Minutes for your information.
Q You mentioned that you were working with 14 current cases and 3 had been closed. Were these closed successfully?
A SR responded that he would have to check but generally the ones being closed were successful. The reason a case would be closed which had not been successful was where everything had been offered to the individual. In which case, Transforming Lives would then look at the impact and if this impact was only on themselves. Some people chose to have a chaotic lifestyle and in these circumstances there was not much more which could be done.
Q How are you finding service users in agreeing to sign the consent?
A Quite positive, a lot do tend to want the help. In the past this may have been difficult but it is about the right person speaking to the individual in the first instance which is generally not the Police. The type of people identified for the Transforming Lives programme respond more positively if approached by other agencies.
Q What would happen if someone being helped said they were moving out of the area? Would they be tracked in any way to ensure they continue to receive help?
A Yes, we have had a couple of cases where the individual has either gone to a different part of Lancashire or to GMP. The route then is usually through the Police teams and notifying them.
It is inconsistent across Lancashire at the moment, there is an integrated team in Preston who also does this type of work but in other areas of the county they are only just starting to look at this. If there is no team in place then it would be up to the Police and neighbourhood teams to make them aware of the individual.
Should anyone require further information or wish to refer to the programme please contact email@example.com
FG then introduced the impending Homeless Reduction Bill which had been in the headlines recently.
FG explained that in light of increasing homelessness along with the housing shortage nationally, Bob Blackman an MP for Harrow East introduced a private members bill in June 2016 which was currently going through Parliament. This Bill was based on the Welsh model which had been operating in Wales for some time. There had also been a debate in the House of Lords on some of the clauses which had received cross party support.
As it is looking likely that a Homeless Reduction Bill will be passed which will subsequently impact on local authorities. FG and DA felt it would be useful to explore what this will actually mean for local authorities and what will need to change in order to comply with new legislation.
FG and DA then gave a presentation explaining the 12 main clauses which are as follows:-
1. Meaning of ‘threatened with homelessness’
2. Duty to provide advisory services
3. Duty to assess all eligible applicants’ cases and agree a plan
4. Duty in cases of threatened homelessness
5. Duty to help secure accommodation for those who are homeless
6. Duty to help secure accommodation
7. Deliberate and unreasonable refusal to co-operate
8. Local connection of a care leaver
10. Duty of public authority to refer cases
11. Code of practice
12. Suitability of private rented sector accommodation
A copy of the presentation is attached to these Minutes for your information.
Q What do you think the main day to day changes will be to how the housing advice service works?
A I think the agreement between the applicant and the Council could be quite difficult. Even though we do confirmation of housing advice letters at the moment, they are not really read. To get the applicant to agree to do certain things either to prevent or relieve that homelessness might be a bit of a challenge because a lot of people expect the Council to sort that for them they will just sit and wait until you do so. It is about mind set changes for applicants as well.
Q Do you think it will increase numbers who go into the statutory category of homelessness?
A No, I don’t think it will.
Q Will single people become part of the duty?
A Single people will be part of the relief and prevention duty but they will not necessarily be provided with temporary accommodation. I think that was the worry in that a lot of local authorities think that suddenly everybody who walks through the door will have to go into temporary accommodation. That is not the case, there has still got to be a priority need.
Post Meeting Note:- The Homeless Reduction Bill has now received Royal Ascent and will become law being known as the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. It will come into effect probably in April 2018.
YNOT Aspire Youth Homeless Prevention Project
FG informed the Forum that Sharon Birch was to attend today but unfortunately she was currently absent from work so Cheryl Hindle the new Youth Homelessness Prevention Worker had stepped in at the last minute. FG then passed over to Cheryl to explain the Youth Homelessness Prevention project.
CH explained that she had recently taken up the post of Youth Homelessness Support Worker for YNOT Aspire which is a role that YNOT has been running for the past 4 years. This was previously run purely by volunteers offering 1:1 support and mentoring. The new post is partly funded through the Big Lottery for 20 hours per week for the next 5 years and Hyndburn Borough Council have provided match funding to take the role to full-time for at least the next 12 months.
CH had previously worked as a volunteer for YNOT for 12-18 months before taking on this role. The new role involves working closely with the Housing Advice Team along with other partner agencies in the area in order to provide the help and support needed by young people. It was not just about finding young people suitable accommodation it is working with them to put benefits in place, getting them into further education, building up their social networks, increasing their self-confidence and working with them on the underlying reasons for them becoming homeless to try and prevent this happening again and finally make the changes sustainable.
This might involve mentoring and mediating with the young person in the family to build better relationships and communication to remove the threat of homelessness and allow the young person to remain within the family home.
YNOT Aspire also deliver prevention and early intervention sessions in schools to help raise awareness of the issues facing young people and the services available to them. YNOT Aspire are currently exploring ideas for improving these sessions to help give young people the tools and coping strategies that they may need.
YNOT Aspire is currently visiting partner agencies to give them more information on the service and to find out a little bit more about the work of those agencies.
CH was also exploring the possibility of organising drop-in sessions where young people may access.
FG stated that YNOT Aspire would be the first and single point of contact for young homeless people particularly the 16 and 17 year olds. Anyone who had been involved in the new joint protocol for 16/17 year olds would be aware that YNOT have a key role to play. This is all with effect from the 1st April.
Help for 15-25 year olds that are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training)
FG then welcomed Lisa Cassidy the Invest in Youth Worker who had come along to talk about a project to help 15-25 year olds that are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).
Lisa explained that she worked for Rathbone who had been successful in obtaining funding from the Big Lottery and ESF to work with 15-25 year olds in the Lancashire area over the next 3 years.
Rathbone have 75 organisations working as part of the project including CAB, Move On, Lancashire Women’s’ Centre, Job Centre, Enterprise organisations, New Era etc.
Rathbone, Child Action North West, Barnardos, Groundwork and Boot Strap are all key workers of this project.
Each organisation is given specific areas of Lancashire to reach out to young people but cover the whole of Lancashire right up to Blackpool and down to Skelmersdale.
Rathbone work with individuals on a one to one basis meeting them in the community or wherever they feel comfortable.
The project is offered to any 15-25 year old who is NEET and in need of extra support. The project is not just to help individuals get into employment but to support them with any barriers or issues they may be experiencing for example homelessness, learning difficulties, mental health etc. Workers will provide support to help overcome these.
There are no time restrictions on the help offered and if anyone drops out of the programme workers will do everything possible to try and encourage them to engage.
The requirements for the project are as follows:-
· Aged between 15-25 years
· Not in Education, Employment or Training (confirmation of this will be required)
· A copy of their Birth Certificate or Passport
If the young person does not have clothes suitable for an interview the project is able to provide a nominal grant for this purpose.
There are currently a number of young people on the project requiring counselling services for bereavement and mental health problems but unfortunately there is a waiting list of up to 4 months. If there is high demand for counselling services the project will buy in the service.
If a young person is successful in gaining employment or training the project will continue to support them for 4 weeks from their start date and will continue to monitor progress for a further 2 months.
The project is also looking at incentives to encourage young people to remain in employment.
Q What happens if they drop out at 17 for instance from college and become NEET?
A They can come onto this project. Even if a young person has come out of employment after 2 years as long as they are currently NEET we can work with them.
Q I have been waiting for you to mention the Princes’ Trust because they work with NEET 16 – 24 on these 7 week programmes. Are you working with the Princes’ Trust?
A We are only allowed to work with them if young people meet the employability side.
Hyndburn and Rossendale have now merged together; day to day operations remain the same.
CAB Lancashire is involved in the Building Better Opportunities Programme and Hyndburn are specifically involved with:-
· NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training
· 50 plus
· Financial Capability and Debt Advice
CAB had also received funding for an outreach advice service working with Inspire and also HARV.
CAB had a worker based in Rossendale who was also going to start in Hyndburn focusing on sanctions. People who were struggling with their Job Seekers Allowance or work commitments because of disability or mental health issues, lower education attainment etc. This was quite specific work around equality issues to ensure the Job Centre was recognising when someone was vulnerable. Ensuring that their Job Seekers Agreement or work commitments reflect that and challenging situations where this was not happening.
Maundy operate the Key Scheme for single homeless people aged 25-60 years who are struggling to access properties in the private rented sector. Referrals are received from HBC Housing Advice, Maundy will then assess people and try and help them obtain properties in the private rented sector supporting them through issues like Housing Benefits, Rent Arrears etc. which probably led them to homelessness in the first place.
Maundy also offer a counselling service for anyone 11+ there is no upper limit. This includes bereavement counselling.
Referrals were a little bit slow at the moment and they have a few vacancies.
The service had seen an increase of young people referring with mental health issues.
There had also been an increase in the need for food parcels as people struggle to manage on £55 per week.
MS pointed out that if they were a student of the College the College now had their own food bank. The cost was £3.50 a week and it came in through Fare Share.
Councillor Kath Pratt
Cllr KP asked what liaison was available for NEET with schools?
LC responded that referrals would need to be received from Educational Welfare Officers because they would be aware if any individual was missing school.
Night Safe were really busy at the moment with an influx of 16/17 year olds. There had been quite a few successful outcomes with people moving on.
YMCA had 2 vacancies in one property in Accrington. This was a house with a lot of bedrooms for same sex individuals who then share the rest of the space.
YMCA had also received some funding for Building Stronger Britain Together to work with refugee and asylum seekers on their peer support project. This is refugee and asylum seekers helping other refugee and asylum seekers to know the area and going out into work places, schools etc. to raise awareness.
If anyone would like refugee or asylum seekers to come into their place of work to raise awareness please contact Lorraine Prentice.
Inspire had been very busy with a lot of community work but nothing to report.
1st Call ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Dates of Meetings for 2017
The next meeting of the Forum will take place on Wednesday 12th July 2017 commencing at 10.00am in the QE Room, Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington
Future dates: Tuesday 21st November at 2.00pm