Local MP gives backing to supported housing

BCHA marked the National Housing Association’s recent ‘Starts at Home’ day by inviting Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, to see the refurbishment programme taking place at its St Paul’s supported housing accommodation in Bournemouth.

Starts at Home, now in its second year and run by the National Housing Federation, celebrates how supported housing helps hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people regain their independence and confidence.

Housing associations like BCHA provide a wide range of longer-term social housing as well as vital supported housing services including sheltered accommodation, refuges for domestic abuse victims, homeless shelters and housing for those with disabilities, mental health issues or alcohol and substance addictions.

BCHA’s support comes as uncertainty surrounds the future funding of supported housing. The National Housing Federation and Homeless Link and its members are campaigning to persuade the Government to commit to ensuring that every person who needs extra support has the appropriate home and intervention support that helps the journey back into work and independence.

Malgorzata Roj, Team Manager at St Paul’s, said:

“BCHA’s Supported Housing helps thousands of vulnerable people regain their independence and confidence, allowing them to gain more skills for life, employment and self-care, as well as boosting their self-esteem, eventually enabling them to live independently.”

St Paul’s is the site of the former night shelter and in 2012 it was repurposed to provide supported accommodation for people affected by homelessness, substance and alcohol misuse and complex trauma issues. With a focus on improving customer health and wellbeing, the current project will see the building refurbished and modernised to provide 40 upgraded bedrooms, 39 now with en-suite facilities, new improved doctor’s consulting rooms and nurse’s room with shower and toilet.as well as enhanced IT & training facilities to promote digital inclusion, and an internal Recovery Café.

Malgorzata, adds:

“The refurbishment programme will improve our customers living conditions, help develop life skills, access to employment, as well as advance the health provision for customers in the project and the wider Bournemouth community.”

Connor Burns, said:

“It was a pleasure to visit St Paul’s and to meet residents and staff. Behind every case of homelessness lies a tragedy. Often caused by addiction, relationship failure or mental health the biggest thing we can provide is help and support. The work of BCHA does exactly that. They help people regain control of their lives and offer hope.”

BCHA was awarded a £1m grant from Homes and Community Agency’s (HCA) Homelessness Change Programme to support the redevelopment but has also provided an additional £228,000 of its own money to complete the project. Local construction company Spetisbury is overseeing the transformation, which is due for completion by March 2018, coinciding with BCHA’s 50 th anniversary.

Martin Hancock, Chief Executive at BCHA, said:

“Supported housing helps people move from a time of crisis or loss of confidence and self-esteem to live independently and achieve their aspirations in a safe and secure home. It is a critical time for supported housing; we must highlight how vital a lifeline it is to so many vulnerable people and show Government why supported housing should be put on a secure and sustainable funding footing for the future.

Furthermore, supported accommodation, like St Paul’s, generates significant cost savings for public services, such as the social services, NHS, police and the criminal justice system, as early intervention does reduce ambulance callouts and hospital admissions, as well as reduce any re-offending.

We have many examples of life changing decisions being made as behaviours are changed and self-confidence increases to enable many people move-on into learning and work and find a new way forward.

It is very encouraging when MP’s like Conor Burns take time out to learn more about these vital services and engage with residents and we hope can influence decisions at the top levels of the government”

Conor, added:

“I warmly congratulate them (BCHA) on the quality of the provision and welcome their desire to provide more locally to help tackle the problem of homelessness we face locally. I would encourage all in a position to partner with BCHA to do so.”