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Business Plan FINAL April 2009.pdf

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1 Business Plan 2009-2012 1. Effective pathways out of homelessness 2. Skilled interventions to motivate and achieve change 3. Positive contributions to neighbourhoods, communities and society 4. User empowerment and involvement 5. Financial stability and robust governance 6. Communicating our experience and understanding the barriers leading to homelessness. 1) Effective pathways out of homelessness Thames Reach is entirely committed to securing ways out of
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   1 Business Plan 2009-2012 1. Effective pathways out of homelessness 2. Skilled interventions to motivate and achieve change 3. Positive contributions to neighbourhoods, communities and society 4. User empowerment and involvement 5. Financial stability and robust governance 6. Communicating our experience and understanding the barriers leading to homelessness. 1) Effective pathways out of homelessness Thames Reach is entirely committed to securing ways out of homelessness for those who find themselves on the street or in insecure, inadequate accommodation. We also provide a range of prevention services to help people avoid homelessness in the first place. Breaking cycles that lead to repeat homelessness is crucial and helping people to maintain themselves and become self-sufficient is therefore an essential part of our approach. We focus strongly on helping service users to build confidence and resilience. Social exclusion blights the lives of many of Thames Reach’s service users, so helping people develop and maintain strong social networks with families and friends is also of paramount importance. The different initiatives described under this key delivery objective form a pathway away from homelessness. There are many routes away from homelessness and social exclusion and, given that the journey can be long and painful, numerous obstacles and diversions that can lead to people moving backwards. The pathway out is therefore rarely linear. Our job is to maximise the different options people can choose, using Thames Reach and others. As our ethos and values state, we are committed to never giving up on people, no matter how complex, chaotic and challenging they may be . This section covers four areas: a. Prevention, including hostels diversion b. Street work c. Hostels as places of change d. Sustainability: Tenancy support; education, training and employment. a. Prevention   2 Thames Reach has always undertaken work to help people avoid homelessness, and especially street homelessness. Where it is possible, our interventions will be minimal; that is, of the ‘light touch’ variety as we actively seek to avoid creating dependency. Building on current activities, we will strengthen our service delivery in the area of prevention. For many of the people we meet on the streets, especially the most vulnerable, a place in a hostel is a good option. Here they can stabilise and begin to develop the confidence and skills to move forward with their lives. However, for others a hostel is not the right option. Indeed, the hostel environment can be counter-productive for some people, especially if they are new to homelessness. During the period of the business plan we will seek to increase our capacity to divert people away from hostels in the following ways: i. Advice work to prevent homelessness Over the last three years we have developed effective advice services working in specific settings, often as part of a collaborative approach with partners. The advice is directed primarily at those individuals who struggle to break cycles of behaviour which place them at risk of homelessness and those who are in danger of their housing situation deteriorating, increasing the danger of them becoming street homeless. Different parts of the organisation have developed this expertise, notably: ã   The HAWK team - Working with the probation service in outer east London the team has succeeded in building up a reputation for assisting ex-offenders by providing imaginative housing options and support in related areas such as debt counselling and provision of employment advice. ã   Camberwell Shop-front -  A crucial part of the service offered as an element of the Southwark Reach floating support service is ‘shop-front’ advice for residents of Southwark in areas such as housing benefit, employment rights, debt counselling etc ã   Greenhouse Walk-in - The Greenhouse Walk-in, managed in partnership with the City and Hackney Primary Care Trust (PCT), offers housing advice to people in Hackney who need help to find somewhere to live or assistance in maintaining their accommodation. Practical interventions are also made by Greenhouse Walk-in staff to help central and eastern European nationals improve their employability and avoid sleeping rough. Thames Reach is not aiming to become a major provider of advice services; this is not a core business area. However, we will continue to seek opportunities to offer advice that can divert people away from homelessness, benefit people whose tenancies are at risk and increase self-sufficiency and resilience. We will improve our ability to focus on those individuals who frequently return to us with recurring problems so that they can be linked with   3 specialist support and the underlying problems that create their cycle of dependence addressed. ii. Hostel diversion work Through our role on the London Delivery Board 1  and linked fora, we are exploring in depth the pathways away from rough sleeping which, statistics show, tend to be narrowly linear. The route off the street is invariably via a hostel. The hostels pathway in London is, for many, an unsuccessful journey that results in repeat homelessness. The most recent statistics (2008-09) show that 30% of the people moving into a hostel are either evicted or abandon. Of the 50% who do undertake a planned move out of a hostel, one-third of these individuals are referred on to another hostel, creating a ‘churn’ of long-term homeless around the system. Although Thames Reach’s hostels have a very good record in terms of successful move on, there is a greater need to divert people away from the hostel system and to find more successful routes out of homelessness. During the business plan period we will undertake initiatives to divert people away from using hostels so that the routes out of homelessness are more varied and the overall impact more effective. It is especially important to target those people do not require the relatively high level of support provided in hostels. Unless we can reduce dependence on a small number of central London hostels to help people off of the street, we will not end street homelessness by 2012. This approach will build on some excellent work already underway in Thames Reach, including: ã   Working with housing options teams - Thames Reach staff at the Greenhouse Walk-in have undertaken work in conjunction with the Housing Options team at Hackney Council, whereby they take responsibility for assisting people who do not have a statutory right to housing. They frequently refer them into a shared house in the private rented sector (PRS). This option is often preferred to a referral into a shelter or hostel. We will actively seek to replicate this model working with other local authorities, in particular emphasising its importance as a means of preventing new arrivals coming onto the street. ã   Lewisham Hostels Diversions Project –  As an illustration of the interest in this approach, the London Housing Foundation (LHF) has allocated funding towards developing such an approach, working with the London Borough of Lewisham and Thames Reach’s Lewisham services. 1  The London Delivery Board has been established to oversee the reduction of rough sleeping in London to zero and is led by the London Mayor’s Director of Housing.   4 This diversionary work is crucial if we are to end rough sleeping by 2012 as street count information shows that new arrivals make up over 50% of the street population. b. Street work The business plan covers a unique period as we run up to the commencement of the 2012 Olympics, the target date for ending rough sleeping in London. Over the next three years the development of our street work services will be given special attention. i. Establishing an effective 21 st  century street work model Thames Reach has recently embarked on an initiative working with consultants funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) that uses Thames Reach’s ‘balanced score-card’ audit system as a quality assurance framework to establish the standards expected from all teams undertaking street work. We aim to be at the forefront of new developments in street-work and will focus on moving away from the need for a precise ‘verification’ of a person being a rough sleeper in order to receive assistance and towards a more general assessment of need based on vulnerability as the key prioritising factor.  At the commencement of the business plan period we have specific contractual responsibilities for street work delivery in Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith and Fulham, Croydon and Lambeth, and manage the London Street Rescue service covering 20 other London boroughs. We are very well placed to pioneer the changes needed to reduce the number of people sleeping rough. We will actively collaborate in improving the level of intelligence gathered and the way the information is disseminated and used and develop a strong enforcement approach to harmful street activities such as begging, drug misuse and street drinking, working closely with the police and other street-based services. ii. Reconnections The reconnections pilot has put Thames Reach at the forefront of the work to reconnect people from Central and Eastern Europe who are struggling on the streets of London, with family and friends back home. This work will enable Thames Reach to develop expertise in the practice of reconnecting people more generally; for example, reconnecting a person to their home area in the UK before they become entrenched on the street. iii. Other routes off the street Other options can be offered as an alternative to a hostel. For example, our  joint work with the London Ambulance Service has enabled us, where there is

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