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  • stopgapinhexham

The development of the new core accommodation service in Links House continues...

The development of the new core accommodation service in Links House continues as we finalise plans and contract agreements with Karbon Homes Ltd and they begin the tendering process.

Links House was designed as a Foyer type service with accommodation and training / office space. At that time there was accommodation for nine individuals in three shared flats with a small office space on the second floor.

The property has remained empty since early 2016. In 2017 we approached Karbon Homes and began discussions around our use of the building as a new core accommodation project. Since then things have continued to progress with plans for a new improved layout to the accommodation and with an expectation for work to begin onsite in September 2019.

The accommodation will now provide eleven individual bed spaces with ensuite facilities and communal living rooms and kitchens. Access will be via a new reception area and staff offices and there will be a large training / IT suit area.

By utilising the accommodation and office / training space we will have the opportunity to develop a thriving community based homelessness accommodation and support service.

(There is a need to provide a) “…rural community hub…running weekly drop-in sessions which bring together relevant services to provide advice and support to those at risk or experiencing homelessness.”

Snelling, C (2017) Right to home?: Rethinking homelessness in rural communities, IPPR. http://www.ippr.org/publications/right-to-home

In line with our existing service the service delivered will both address the immediate issue of homelessness by providing temporary accommodation and also provide advice and support to enable individuals to access those services appropriate to their needs and make an informed choice around future housing options. As now, support staff will deliver or facilitate training and activity programmes within the service to promote skills development and learning and to help address issues such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence. This helps in successfully moving to independent living, education, training and employment.

Tenant Support Workers will continue to manage a case load of individual service users ensuring each has meaningful involvement in their personal support plan. Recognising service users skills, abilities and strengths and seek to encourage their development and use. Practical advice and assistance will be provided on issues such as welfare benefits, budgeting, life skills, education, employment, training and housing, with help provided to access online benefits and housing applications.

The increased capacity made possible by the development of Links House will allow us to provide support sooner, to prevent or reduce the nights rough sleeping and stop the insecurity and vulnerability of ‘sofa surfing’.

The utilisation of our existing accommodation as a move-on facility will provide increased housing options for those in the new core service, enabling improved ‘through-put’ and so increase the numbers of people we can help annual.

This development, made possible by the support of Karbon Homes and The National Lottery Community Fund will really help us to address the ever growing need for our services and help our long term financial security by increasing earned income and so reducing the percentage of grant funding required.

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