Foundation Derbyshire asked Jericho Derby and High Peak Homeless Help how they were faring at this point in time, a difficult period post covid and straight into the cost of living crisis.
Their thoughts crystallise what many groups anecdotally tell us – that the community and voluntary sector is uniquely placed to support the complex needs facing those who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of falling into homelessness. These groups can take the time to get to know the person and the complex challenges they may carry, finding tailored solutions. Those that work in this field show a blend of tenacity and caring, but demand on their services is rising and finding volunteer support is proving hard.
First we hear from Charles at High Peak Homeless Help, based in Buxton, followed by David from Jericho who have been working in Derby for 19 years.
Charles Jolly – Chair High Peak Homeless Help
The previous Derbyshire Matters article, by Katy Pugh, CEO of Age UK Derby and Derbyshire, rang a loud bell! Our biggest problem is that Covid has hit the confidence of many of our trained volunteers and so they have not returned in its aftermath. Further, not only is it harder than it was previously to recruit new volunteers but some are less ‘stickable’. It appears that this ‘lose-lose’ situation is common, so we in the voluntary sector must continue to work together to promote the many rewards of volunteering.
We do not remember a time when so many people have found it so hard to make ends meet and discussions have mainly centred around the cost of living, homelessness, and relationship break down. The bottom line is that we still provide ‘same day’ emergency tents or pods and care-rucksacks 365 days per year to anyone who would otherwise sleep rough
One disturbing realization is that, before the financial crisis, much unsatisfactory housing was ‘hidden’. Of course, many landlords are conscientious but not all tenanted or owned houses and flats are comfortable. Our object is to help homeless people and prevent homelessness but we have to ask whether a cold, damp house without food in the cupboard deserves to be called a home
David Parkinson – Assistant Manager – Jericho Derby
As with most cities, Derby has areas where homelessness and drug use is particularly prevalent. Derby is also a city of contrasts with 16% of areas classed as most deprived (Index of Multiple Deprivation, IMD) and 14% of areas classed as least deprived.
Individuals that access Jericho House are often homeless, using hard drugs, involved in criminality, separated from families, and have little hope for the future. The presence of numerous complex needs in a person’s life require a comprehensive exploration of their sociology, physiology, psychology and criminology, pinpointing the exact nature of problems and ultimately implementing an effective solution of cognitive skills and coping strategies. Addressing the needs of at risk persons that are homeless is particularly difficult as anything short of a complete and effective holistic solution can result in individuals becoming stuck in a seemingly endless loop of progress then regression.
With support from Foundation Derbyshire we have opened 2 Supported Housing properties and started a new family support meeting. Organisations like Foundation Derbyshire that contribute towards the viability of these projects are integral to the ongoing essential provision for homeless/at risk members of Derby City.
For individuals to begin to live independently with positive employment or training outcomes, access to relevant organisations and in-depth support is needed. The voluntary sector and community enterprises excel at time-intensive person centred support but often suffer from operational and financial challenges.