Sefton Homeless Services Open As Usual Over The Holidays

It’s business as usual for all Sefton Supported Housing Group projects over the holiday period, as each organisation will continue to provide their normal service opening times.

The Sit-Up Service for rough sleepers at Bosco House, the Sead Project and Leyland Road, will operate as usual, 8pm to 8am, each night. This means that no one will have to spend a night out on the streets of Sefton over the holiday period, they can get a warm, safe place to sleep, something to eat, clean clothes and a shower, if they want it.

For those who become homeless when Sefton Council’s Housing Options Team office is closed, the Health and Social Care Emergency Duty Team operate an out of hours service. The service is for emergencies only and can give general advice and provide assistance in finding temporary emergency accommodation.

You can contact the Out of Hours service on 0151 920 8234 Monday to Thursday after 5.00p.m, Friday after 4.15pm, and any time at weekends and over the public holidays.

Bosco Pilot Controlled Drinking Programme

Bosco House is to pilot a new approach to helping chaotic drinkers reduce the harm from the alcohol they are consuming.

The aim of the programme is to help clients gain control over their drinking by allowing them to have an agreed amount of alcohol at set times during the day. This is part of a support package that includes regular key-work sessions, mapping progress, working through challenges and relapse, and liaising closely with their key-worker at Sefton’s alcohol service.

The objectives of the plan are to help clients:

  1. Safely and gradually reduce their daily consumption of alcohol.
  2. Avoid eviction from Bosco House.
  3. Promote a less chaotic lifestyle.

How it works

During key-work sessions, the alcohol reduction plan is discussed with the client and the best way forward for that individual is agreed. The plan can then start on their next benefit payment day, when they purchase enough alcohol to see them through the coming week. The alcohol is then securely stored by staff for handing over at the agreed times.

For example, the key-worker and client agree a limit of how much to consume throughout the day and at specific times, for example:

  • 30am – 9.30am
  • 00pm – 3.00pm
  • 00pm – 9.00pm

Once the client is stabilised on a regular dose of alcohol, usually after the first two weeks, they can then aim to reduce the amount they consume each day.

There are, of course, strict conditions that the client agrees to:

  • The client must ask for each amount of alcohol from the staff on duty, at the allotted time. When this has been consumed, staff will remove the empty container(s).
  • The client can only consume the alcohol in their own room and nowhere else, on or off, the premises.
  • They cannot share their personal allowance of alcohol with any other resident, or allow any other resident or visitor to enter their room while the alcohol is there (it’s not a party, after all!).
  • The client cannot store the alcohol in their room in order to binge drink.
  • The client cannot ask any other resident or visitor to purchase or bring alcohol into the house on their behalf.

Failure to comply with these conditions and/or drinking on top of this amount away from Bosco House, will result in the plan being terminated and the remaining alcohol being taken off the premises. The plan is reviewed with the client during their weekly key-work sessions, and with other staff when necessary, to assess progress.

New Start Working To Improve Financial Confidence In Vulnerable Households

New Start has been working in partnership with Liverpool Citizen Advice Partnership since April 2015 to deliver the Improving Financial Confidence Programme.

New Start storyNew Start is a host Hub providing support to volunteers to enable them to provide assistance to help tenants manage their finances. The scheme is aimed at social housing tenants, first-time tenants, such as those leaving home for the first time, students, people setting up on their own after a relationship breakdown, returning from the armed forces, or a change in life circumstances.

New Start’s volunteers assist in various tasks, such as:

  • Opening a Bank, Credit Union or Building Society account.
  • Budgeting, priority and non-priority expenditure, and maximising your income.
  • Meeting essential expenditure such as rent, council tax, gas, electric, water, phone & broadband, TV license, insurances, food, furniture, etc.
  • Setting up Direct Debits and Standing Orders, to pay rent, bills, etc.
  • Using online comparison websites to get a better deal on fuel, telecoms, etc.
  • How to use an online benefit calculator to check entitlement and providing basic help with claims.
  • Providing support and help with reading meters and understanding bill formats.
  • Additional signposting, where required, to CAB advisors or other supporting agencies.

This is a preventative service designed to increase self-confidence, develop new skills and empower tenants to make better decisions regarding their finances, thus reducing the likelihood of financial crises developing.

To find out more information about this project, go to  http://www.liverpoolcap.org.uk/projects/ifc .

A Lord Comes To Bosco House

1c883f33-dd25-43f9-93ef-c98f0a70375dBosco House was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a real-life Lord paying a visit this month. As part of the Well Sefton scheme, Lord Andrew Mawson called in to spend some time talking to service users to get the low-down on life in Bosco.

The focus of his visit was to find out from those affected how homelessness impacts on individuals and the local community – and the changes that come from being offered somewhere decent to live. Accordingly, he spent time chatting to some of the residents to get their views on life on the street and the importance of supported accommodation in getting your life back on track.

Dave Morton, one of Bosco’s team of volunteers, gave the Lord the guided tour of the house, gardens, and the facilities in the Futures Suite. Dave said: “He was particularly impressed with the music room and the activities that go on here. And, for a Lord, he seemed like a pretty down-to-earth bloke. Nice guy.”

Lord Mawson commented: “We believe in the unique gifts of every individual in the community and this is the secret to our success. It is the people bit that matters and this is what civil servants and politicians often fail to understand. We engage government firmly but positively; focusing on bringing consistency to their multiplicity of approaches and initiatives.”

Well Sefton is one of the initial pilot sites of Well North, a programme to test interventions to improve overall health in some of the poorest and most deprived areas of the North of England. Following an initial rapid review, led by Lord Mawson, a number of recommendations were made that emphasised the need for boosting local infrastructure, particularly in the community and voluntary sector.

Bosco House was one of the projects Well Sefton chose for Lord Mawson to visit, so he could see an example of good practice in providing support to the homeless in the borough

“One person without a home is one too many” Says Minister

The minister for local government (whose portfolio covers homelessness) Marcus Jones MP, spoke at the Homeless Link conference ‘Stem the Tide’ on Monday 7th December.

He said: “I am delighted to be able to speak at today’s Homeless Link Conference. One person without a home is one too many, and our efforts over the past five years have helped prevent nearly one million households from becoming homeless.”

The one-day conference looked at interventions to prevent homelessness and explored when charities, housing associations, day centres, councils and advice services can intervene to prevent homelessness.

The minister went on: “We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society, which is why, over the next four years, we will increase central funding by making £139 million available for innovative programmes to prevent and reduce homelessness.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing the views of everyone who works so tirelessly supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society to find out how we can ensure no one is without a roof over their head.”

Delegates at the conference discussed a broad agenda, including early interventions that target people at risk, crisis interventions that prevent bad situations from getting worse and enable a quicker recovery, and measures that support the process of moving on from homelessness and into independent living.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link said: “The Homelessness sector faces many issues over the coming months. The problems around complex and multiple needs are a particular challenge; as are the challenges providers face in ensuring that people avoid repeat homelessness.

“The opportunity for the minister to hear from those working in the sector on this issue will be welcomed; as will the chance for the minister to contribute to the debate and outline the Government’s position and plans.”

Movie Star Launches Campaign To Feed The Homeless At Xmas

Hollywood superstar, George Clooney, has launched a campaign to feed the homeless at Christmas by donating the first £5. The appeal aims to feed thousands of homeless people in Scotland on Christmas Day and throughout 2016.

The movie star actor, 54, was filmed donating £5 and urged other people to do the same. People can also contribute towards a convoy of vans that are leaving on Boxing Day with food and winter essentials to refugee camps in Calais, the Serbia/Croatia border and Lesbos.

Last year Social Bite, the not-for-profit Scottish sandwich shop chain, received over 36,000 donations, raising more than £180,000. This allowed them to provide free meals for homeless people all-year round in five of their shops.

Social Bite’s co-founder, Josh Littlejohn, said: “We still have unacceptable levels of homelessness and poverty here on our doorstep and we’re grateful for the public’s support in helping us to do our bit, but we can’t forget the horrendous conditions faced by millions of innocent men, women and children feeling conflict.”

Trespass clothing brand have agreed to match each donation.

New guidance on naloxone in homelessness services

Following recent changes in the law around the availability of naloxone, the lifesaving antidote for heroin and other opioid overdoses, Homeless Link has produced new guidance to help integrate this vital intervention into services for the homeless.

The guidance has been produced in response to concerns around rising numbers of heroin-related deaths nationally – up by almost two-thirds in the past two years from 579 in 2012 to 952 last year. According to the Office of National Statistics, in Sefton there were 33 deaths related to drug misuse in 2012-2014.

The guidance is designed to provide the information needed to introduce naloxone into services and aims to promote good practice standards as part of a wider harm reduction approach.

You can help spread the word about the guidance and encourage good practice around naloxone, and help get local authorities and homeless organisations to adopt its use, if they haven’t done already.

Widening of Naloxone availability and good practice around its use will help to save lives. Here are some of the ways you can help spread the word and help get the guidance out:

  • Notify your colleagues by email within your organisation – the simple link to share is homeless.org.uk/naloxone
  • Put the guidance on the agenda at local strategic and practice forums, sharing information with colleagues at partner agencies
  • Add a link to the guidance in your newsletter or on your website
  • Use social media to spread the word, sharing with your networks using Facebook or Twitter. Here is a sample tweet you can use or adapt:

“New guidance on life saving naloxone from @homelesslink – could this work in your service? http://bit.ly/hl-naloxone#naloxone

Homeless Link has also published a framework for managers in accommodation-based homelessness services, to implement good practice around using naloxone as part of a wider harm reduction approach. Go to http://www.homeless.org.uk/our-work/resources/naloxone-in-homelessness-services

Immigration status checks could increase homelessness, say charities

The government has recently announced that it will push ahead with plans to force landlords to check the immigration status of renters, following a Home Office evaluation of a pilot scheme in Birmingham.

The evaluation showed that six of the local charities surveyed said people they represent had become homeless as a result of the scheme, while interviews with landlords found the ‘potential’ for discrimination. Seven of the charities reported that people who have the right to rent, but not the right documentation, were struggling to find accommodation.

Responding to the evaluation, national homelessness charity, Crisis, raised grave concerns that the measures could leave people homeless and at risk of discrimination.

Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, said: Today’s Home Office evaluation contains some alarming findings about the homelessness impact of these plans. Crisis has already raised serious concerns that requiring landlords to check the immigration status of renters could make it even harder for homeless people to find a place to live, and this report shows that our fears are well founded.

“It is deeply troubling that in the pilot area, six of the local charities surveyed said that people they represent had become homeless as a result of the scheme, while seven indicated that people with the right to rent were struggling to find accommodation.

“Homeless people’s documents often get lost or stolen, and in today’s high pressure rental market, landlords will be more likely to rent to someone who can provide the evidence quickly. As well as creating problems for homeless people, this could lead to discrimination against foreign nationals and people of black and minority ethnic backgrounds, as today’s evaluation suggests.

“As members of the advisory panel we will be raising these concerns with the Home Office and strongly urge the government to work with us to make sure nobody is made homeless because of this scheme.”

Superstar Helps Houston Homeless

The superstar singer, Beyonce, is putting her money where her mouth is to help homeless people in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Earlier this year she donated half a million dollars to Chime for Change, a global campaign that was created to help strengthen and unite the voices of young women around the world by inspiring them with “powerful stories” about inspiring women. But back in June, news surfaced that the singer didn’t stop there.

It has been revealed that she stumped up $7 million to build a low-income housing project in her hometown for homeless men, women and children. She was even dubbed a saint by her Pastor, Rev. Rudy Rasmus, for her involvement with the church.

“She’s an incredible human being. Has an incredible heart and has been extremely helpful in our mission and our ministry here,” Rasmus said in a recent interview. “She has a global platform and is doing some amazing work and I’m glad she’s a friend of mine,” he continued.

Alongside the ex-Manchester United players allowing their property to be used by rough sleepers, it’s good to see that the rich and famous can give something back to their communities, especially to help the homeless.

Venus Has Christmas All Wrapped Up!

As the festive season is fast approaching, there are loads of Christmassy things going on at Venus, Our Place, and their project in Halton.

The Venus Children’s Christmas Party is being held on Tuesday the 22nd of December, from 1.30-3.30pm. The party is for families who have received support from Venus in the last year. If you would like to put your family’s name down for the party, then call into Venus or telephone them on 0151 474 4744.

Our Place is holding a Christmas Party for young people planning to leave care and care leavers, on the 18th of December from 4.30pm onwards. If you would like to book onto this party, then please call them on 0151 928 1380 or call into Our Place.

Last year, the Our Place Christmas Fair was a great success and they’re now looking forward to another great time at this year’s, which is on the 17th of December starting at 4.30pm at Our Place. If you’re interested in having a table at the fair, you can find out more about this by calling the Centre. Otherwise, they’re looking forward to seeing you at the fair for Christmassy goodies and bargains galore!

Venus, Our Place and our Halton office will be closed from the 22nd of December. However, they will be open for telephone advice and support on the days that aren’t Bank Holidays over the Christmas period. You can call between 1pm and 4pm, on either 0151 474 4744 or 0151 928 1380, on the following days:

  • Wednesday 23rd December 2015
  • Thursday 24th December 2015
  • Tuesday 29th December 2015
  • Wednesday 30th December 2015
  • Thursday 31st December 2015

All of the Centres will be open again on Monday the 4th of January from 9.00am.

There are lots of other events and activities happening in the run up to Christmas, too. Our Place carol singers will be at Liverpool One on Wednesday the 2nd of December from 6pm, so if you’re shopping and can spare a few pennies they will be singing for their supper and rattling the collection buckets.

There are lots of other activities on offer so if you’re interested in getting involved and feeling festive, you know what to do – drop in or phone for more info!