Tackling Rural Homelessness
Providing Homelessness Services Since 1999
Gap Supported Housing was first registered as a charity under the name StopGap on January 7th 1999 and became StopGap Supported Housing and a company limited by guarantee in 2009.
We became Gap Supported Housing in 2022
WHAT OUR SERVICE USERS SAY
In 2016 we were approached by A level student Marcus Graham who wished to produce a video about our service as part of an A level project
We were more than happy for Marcus to do this and gave him free reign to speak to both those within the service and members of staff.
Our accommodation service was opened in 2001, an end terrace property adapted to provide hostel type accommodation with basic sleeping, washing and cooking facilities for up to five people and staff accommodation.
In 2008 we were successful in securing capital funding from the CLG Places of Change Programme to refurbish our existing accommodation project and to expand into the adjacent property. Officially opened in September 2010 by the Duchess of Northumberland, this provides accommodation for up to seven people including a short term emergency bed.
There is communal living space and training space including an IT suite and catering standard kitchen. Three bedrooms have en-suite facilities and all are spacious light and airy. In this service we support individuals to address those issues that may have led to their becoming homeless. The support needs of the people we support are many and varied. They can include mental health needs; learning disability; addiction such as for example alcohol, substance misuse or gambling; history of physical or emotional abuse; relationship breakdown; property re-possession. In addition to these support needs, and often as a result of these needs, many have a history of offending. The majority have very low self-esteem and feel marginalised from their community. We support people to apply for housing and we provide and facilitate training and activity programmes to help develop living skills, employability training and other activities to promote self-esteem and confidence.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
“Homelessness affects people in all sorts of areas and a small well-planned project like StopGap can make a real difference in a rural town like Hexham, helping people to stay within their own community. Our role is all about helping councils and communities to tackle local needs and this is a great example of that approach in action.”
Bill Carr - Area Manager
Homes & Communities Agency (2010)
Because we are a rural service, based in a market town, homelessness is not considered to be a need that requires addressing, not seen as high priority. This is far from the case and the reality is that we are receiving far more referrals for our help than our existing facilities can accommodate. There are many people in our community and in the surrounding towns and villages who, for whatever reason, find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Hexham and many of the surrounding towns and villages of Tynedale are often perceived as affluent areas and for many they are, but not for all. Within the Indices of Deprivation some of these areas are listed among the most disadvantaged 20% of the population.
Our existence also contributes to the lack of visible homelessness. Because we are here we are able to help people sooner, to prevent or reduce the nights rough sleeping so people do not have to spend nights on the street, in doorways, sleeping on park benches. It is in these circumstances when an already vulnerable person can become even more at risk and increasingly susceptible to beginning, or increasing, alcohol and drug misuse and becoming a victim, or perpetrator, of crime. Because we are here, a homeless individual can be supported in their community, close to friends and other support networks. Without us they would have to leave the area, possibly to city based hostel accommodation.