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Goodbye 2015…… Hello 2016 for HOPE
How have we done at HOPE?
Well, what a year it’s been! Its only when you look back that you can see what’s been achieved. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s amazing what our small team has been able to do, especially if we compare it to the previous year.
From a Housing perspective; another year supporting more people to find a home (up 26% to 250), helping more with advice and guidance (up 45% to 482), and aiding more to get a tenancy (up 44% to 77).
Whilst more of our Service Users have been able to volunteer or get a work placement (up 62% to 78), fewer have been able to turn that into a job (down 40% to 15), a reflection of the difficult economic climate locally. And, perhaps the reason why fewer clients have taken up training opportunities (down 28% to 62), despite our staff badgering them to do so. Nevertheless, it is gratifying to know that many more who did get involved have achieved qualifications (up 350% to 28) as a means to better themselves and improve their life chances.
What does this mean for northern Nottinghamshire?
More Nottinghamshire residents were helped to successfully maintain their tenancy (50% more at 105), and greater numbers have been supported to remain free from rent arrears (up 56% at 136), all of whom may otherwise have lost their home.
Most homeless people never thought they would be in this position. The vast majority blame themselves for it and, as a result, have a very poor self-image and low self-esteem. Being able to see a way out of the crisis that has engulfed them is extremely difficult, and something on which we focus a great deal of our attention.
Our residents told us that whilst they were with HOPE; 48% had better physical health, 49% had better mental health, 65% had lower usage of drugs and alcohol, 73% felt more motivated, 82% had greater self-confidence, and 48% had higher personal aspirations. This means they are beginning to tackle the very issues that got them to where they are and, we believe, on the road to a brighter future.
What does it mean for communities in Nottinghamshire?
Almost without exception, those who accessed HOPE’s services and who had previously been involved with the police, did not reoffend whilst with us (98% – 64 of 65 people). Our hostel residents have to be “in” by 9pm, so for those who believe that our presence is a cause for criminality, we would beg to differ!
It is even recognised by the Ministry of Justice (DCLG 2012), that homelessness and offending is intertwined and mutually perpetuating. They assert that becoming homeless is a direct cause for offending, drug and alcohol misuse is a coping mechanism for those living rough, with crime committed to fund the addiction. We can demonstrate that for our Service Users, that link in the chain is being removed.
What are our Challenges at HOPE?
We only have 14 crisis beds, our capacity is limited by planning approval, to serve the whole county. Therefore, at times we have no beds available and have to turn people away, which we hate to do, especially during bad weather. That is when we have the awful task of deciding who will get a bed for the night and, who will not (on 152 occasions in 2015). Our staff have to make the unenviable decision as to who is the most “needy”. Telling someone, who may have already been staying with us, that they now do not have a bed because we have had to give that bed to someone else, is depressing for all concerned. It leads to; frustration, fear, anger and despair for all involved. Even those who get the bed, knowing that someone else is on the street, they feel responsible and guilty as a result!
We do not intend to create more crisis beds, consultation with stakeholders did not feel this was appropriate, and planning is unlikely to be approved. But, as demand is rising we do need to increase capacity, as you can see from what we have done this year. Therefore, we are focusing on moving people on, helping them to get a place of their own. We are currently renovating a property in Worksop into 6 flats, which will begin to house people during March. We do have plans for further properties during the year, finding the money to make this happen is our focus for 2016.
We believe that everybody deserves a home in which to live and a bed in which to sleep. We are there to help those who need a hand to make this happen so, if in the future you are in this position, HOPE will be there to guide you on your journey back to normality.
Blog written by;
Chief Executive Officer
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