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Thread created on: Tuesday, July 28, 2020
By: Marcus
Tag:   C-19 (1)     Post-Lockdown (1)    

Thread Comments


Hi all, David and Chris here from Expert Link. We are a peer led organisation championing the voice of people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages, including homelessness, mental health issues, substance misuse, offending and domestic violence and abuse. Our vision is of a world where people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages are treated as equal partners in decisions made about their lives.

Looking forward to chatting about all things co-production and what needs to change!

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Hi everyone, I’m Zoë, I’ve been running the Coventry Frontline Network since 2017, based at Coventry Citizens Advice. We run events for frontline workers in homelessness and related sectors to help agencies connect and work together. We also like to keep an eye on policy changes and give frontline workers a way to have their voices heard through local and national consultations.

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We're kicking off today's session with our first question. What has been your experience during Covid-19?

Replies: (10) - Hide All

We have facilitated a National Advisory Panel of people with lived experience of disadvantage from around the country. Bringing together a wealth of wisdom of how COVID-19, and the response, has affected people experiencing multiple disadvantages.

We've produced fortnightly reports which have sent to Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). These, and our call for all work to recognise voices, choices and aspirations can be found here:

https://www.expertlink.org.uk/national-advisory-panel

Particular themes have included involvement of people in decisions made about their lives, fear of uncertainty, positive stories of many who historically had not been engaged given the opportunity to secure accommodation, and positive changes relation to drug and alcohol services. There is a noticeable regional variation!

Hi firstly with our VRF i would have been impossible... first 2mths all letting agents closed and upon reopening had waiting lists so long, and my client group was at the bottom of that list, my local council in Blackpool had been great housing many homeless people, but again these had priority over mine making things even more difficult.
i have now with options of possibly more funding they have been listening to me (sadly most of my known landlords are only interested in money) It has been also an issue not being able to see clients or agents as i always find meeting the person first and the reasons for a need later...i have not done anything like this forum i hope this is Ok Andy

Hello Andy, thank you for your comment, this is really helpful. It is really positive to hear that you have been able to use the VRF Emergency Fund to support people you are working with. It is a difficult time for people with limited housing options. Thanks for joining today- we're happy you're taking part!

We also contacted over 100 people to understand their aspirations for accommodation post-temporary settlement. It was clear from those we engaged with that rough sleeping is not a lifestyle choice, the emergency accommodation offer worked for many people, and people want to move on to their own flat/house. Full details here: https://www.expertlink.org.uk/post/giving-people-a-voice-in-their-future

Groundswell have also produced a wealth of reports based on peoples direct experiences which can be found here: https://groundswell.org.uk/monitoring-covid-19/

Hi Andy
I think we might all be be new to this 'live' forum thingy so just go with the flow!
I have returned to Action Homeless in Leicester after a period furloughed to a new role for the next few months - I'm shielding so working from home - I have been systematically going through alerts from Rightmove/Zoopla/moving soon/openrent etc and phoning agents to ask if they are able to let properties to people claiming benefits (even though saying no is now illegal - one step at a time!). I have been getting the NO answer a lot but some positive responses too - although after 3 weeks still no firm offers of properties. (Banging head against that wall!).
I agree that the increased funding available for getting housing from the VRF was extremely timely and will be missed when and if it comes to an end (Marcus???).
Do you know of any social lettings agencies anywhere?
Do you look through internet websites or rely on word of mouth?
Cheers
Ian

Regarding social lettings, an NHAS event earlier this year had a feature from York council who have set up their own in-house lettings agency - is this something we would like to see more of? https://www.york.gov.uk/YorHome

Zoe
Thanks for the link I will definitely look at that.
Action homeless already work with private LL's to manage their properties and have a number on peppercorn rents on long leases. This means we decide who lives in the properties and also take responsibility for collecting rents and repairing damage. We are looking longer term to see what would be involved in setting up a social letting agency - this is part of the purpose of all the contacts I am having with agents.
Doe anyone have information about what campaigns are being planned around the recent ruling regarding the no benefits statements made by lots of LL's and agents?
Appears to me that we need some legislation about this?
Ian

Shelter seem to be collecting some work on this: https://blog.shelter.org.uk/2018/11/stop-dss-discrimination-live-blog/

In Wales, Shelter Cymru have updated that most private or housing association tenants who get an eviction notice between 24 July 2020 and 30 September 2020 are entitled to 6 months’ notice before their landlord can apply to court https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/eviction/

In Northern Ireland, Housing Rights run a housing mediation service that enables tenants and landlords in the private rented sector a new way of finding agreements that are sustainable and satisfactory for both parties. Landlords and tenants who feel that they would benefit from this service can apply online at www.housingrights.org.uk, call Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640 and pick option 6 or email mediation@housingrights.org.uk.
https://www.housingrights.org.uk/news/new-housing-mediation-service-demand-during-covid-19-crisis

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Hi All
Do you think that choice and involvement for people with lived experience has decreased during lock down? I thinking about the number of people and organisations
who have significantly reduced their face to face work?

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In Coventry there is an experts by experience group which in more normal times would meet every 4-6 weeks but has had to put meetings on hold. They are still able to contact people by phone but this does reduce how accessible the support might be for those who prefer to meet face to face.

A plug for the Frontline Network emergency fund that can help support phone and IT access! -
https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/vrf-emergency-fund/

A few positives and negatives on this:

Negatives
Initially, when we went into Lockdown, the focus was on staying safe (and keeping people isolated). At this time the sector looked at things like digital engagement, but from my heart there did seem to be a dip in engagement, when there could have been a spike, as was easy to access people.
There were some examples of tokenistic engagement - for example trying to gather views but little consideration around how accessible this opportunity would be. When people with lived experience were involved in gathering views, however, there was good engagement.
A lot of focus on process and numbers, and not enough time to get things done!

Positives
Conditionality was dropped around access to drug and alcohol support, giving more time to build relationships. Telephone interviews, rather than having to access physical buildings, really works for some, and the added responsibility helped people thrive.

Thanks for the responses all!
I was furloughed for a couple of months and came back to working (from home) at the end of June.
I am finding that I obviously have to make different arrangements to get hold of people and the power imbalance has been changed slightly - clients have more control in that they can just not answer the phone! Also working for an organisation which provides accommodation both tenancies and license agreements the 'no eviction' law means that we have not had this option - albeit used infrequently. This means that we have worked harder to overcome difficulties for clients which may previously have led to eviction. That was sometimes the easy answer and this isn't currently available.....I for one think this is a good thing.
Zoe - I thought the awards for phones etc had now stopped with the emergency fund? We have used it previously.
Ian

Hi Ian, from 23 July 2020, we will only consider applications for Securing Accommodation. We will no longer be awarding grants for basic essential needs or overcoming barriers to support. Please see here https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/vrf-emergency-fund/
thanks

Also, we have been facilitating weekly Conversations on Coproduction, bringing together people from across the sector to explore what coproduction means in current times. In some places coproduction was felt to be on the backburner during crisis mode, though innovative ideas did come up and these will hopefully carry on in the future (e.g. making the most of digital platforms, and doing more face-to-face (socially distanced) work with others know that it is easier to get to people.

An archive of blogs and vlogs can be found here: https://www.expertlink.org.uk/conversations-on-coproduction

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Hi David & Chris

Hope you are well, we have found that during the pandemic (particularly during lockdown) the support of FLW with lived experience, has been particularly crucial in supporting those navigating homelessness, mental health and recovery services. However, with the reduction in statutory provision & distancing measures, often they have felt stuck in the support they can provide. Have you any tips on training for peer workers to help build their confidence, skills particularly in the changing digital approach to working.

Many thanks

Lesley

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We've been recently training some fantastic peer researchers in Blackpool. Some transferrable thoughts from that would include:

Trust in the skills and talents that you have. (We have some training on this, where we get rid of labels and look at skills that we all have - so check out our website and sign up to our newsletter here to find out when on https://expertlink.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=8a92c2b7346c032eebaacfa72&id=ece1d1154b )

Trust in your intuition. People with lived experience have an incredible sense of what will work for other peoples. Use your ideas and share them.

Trust in others! All staff should trust peer mentors to know what will work!

Hi Lesley- we also have our training fund that people can apply to as long as people are registered with the Frontline Network and our Ideas Fund- to support creative, solution focused approaches to support frontline staff and people experiencing homelessness.. http://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/funding/training-fund/ and https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/funding/

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Thank you for the comments so far! Chris, David and Zoe are working their way through each one as quickly as possible.

We believe that through starting conversations with other frontline workers on this Forum, it is possible to break down the silos that we all too often find ourselves working in. 

So please do share your knowledge on this thread, either by posting a comment, or responding to any of the queries posted!

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Chris and David have mentioned some positives impacts that lockdown had. What changed locally or nationally that worked well, for clients or for you? Are there any ways of working that you would like to keep after lockdown?

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We have found increased partnership working across agencies (that would normally be funding competitors) has culminated in a more coordinated approach to service delivery and less siloed way of working.

Great to hear this Lesley. A report came out last week that people may be interested in from Local Government Association and Homeless Link. Great case study (page 11) from Luton Homelessness Partnership who we've been lucky to work with!

https://www.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/site-attachments/Working%20Strategically%20with%20Local%20Authorities%20July2020.pdf

There's a video of their work here too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsTldRbwhOU&feature=youtu.be

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Our next question is about recovery and move-on planning - Local Authorities were asked to create move-on plans for people accommodated in hotels during Everyone In. Has your organisation fed into this work or seen any of the plans?

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There didn’t appear to be much engagement – here’s some quotes from our National Panel…

“It seems like the local authority is just coming up with a plan. They’re not talking to anyone.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“They’re seems to be confusion about move-on from the Covid hotels…They’re seems to be a lack of transparency, and people don’t seem to know that should know. I’m concerned that we’re just going to have a load of people put out the door.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“It’s not clear what the long-term move-on is… They are acting as if they are running out of ideas.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“I don’t think there’s suitable options. They will struggle to meet the needs of service users.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“Service users are only getting one option, to go to a particular hotel. And it’s the one that is furthest away from the city centre… The problems in the city centre, the rough sleeping and the begging, are now being moved to the outskirts.” Member of National Advisory Panel

“We believe there will be one offer, regardless of if it is suitable. We believe that if somebody refuses this then they will be deemed to not be engaging with support.” Member of National Advisory Panel

Some good guidance created by Homeless Link about move-on plans and some best practice suggestions for Local Authorities: https://www.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/site-attachments/COVID19_HomelessnessTransition_LocalPractice_v2_1.pdf

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Your help throughout the Covid 19 crisis has ben invaluable & has enabled many individuals & families to find suitable & sustainable accommodation. The increase in the rent in advance & deposit figures has helped enormously. We are now exceptionally busy with setting up new tenancies. One concern is what will be the maximum figure for rent in advance & deposit after the end of this situation?
Another issue is with furniture & house hold goods as some people can apply for DAF grants but these take 3 or 4 weeks . Some just cant get any help. One idea would be to be able to have a grant to purchase items from local second hand charities that we can work with in partnership, which keeps the business local to everyone's area & helps support jobs & volunteer places whilst also helping people furnish their properties when required. Not waiting in an empty flat for weeks which is very demoralising.
Thanks

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Hi Pam, thank you for your comment. We are really pleased to hear that the VRF Emergency Fund has been able to support people you are working with. I will share this feedback with my colleagues in our VRF Team, as this is helpful. We're aware that these can be massive barriers to people accessing accommodation and creating a home. We held a Q&A on our Forum with https://www.endfurniturepoverty.org/ previously that has lots of helpful resources- https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/community/c-19-frontline-worker-support-forum/furniture-provision-in-the-uk/

We also have the Turn 2 US Grants search on our website, to support looking for other funding https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/resources/grants-search/

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Has anybody been involved in developing a bid for the Next Steps Accommodation Programme?

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This is funding that Local Authorities will bid for, but it's worth noting that the guidance here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/next-steps-accommodation-programme-guidance-and-proposal-templates says on page 13 that "Other types of organisations should contact their local authority in order contribute to the delivery of a local approach, these include: • faith, charity, and community groups • social enterprises • private sector developers"

Critically for us, people with lived experience need to be involved in the bid:

“As well as MHCLG, Homes England and the GLA, coproduction should be carried out in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and partners, including service users, support providers, health and social care commissioners, local voluntary organisations, probation services, registered providers and landlords (para 53).” (Next Steps Accommodation Programme Guidance)

We've blogged on this here: https://www.expertlink.org.uk/post/next-steps-for-co-production

Be interested to know it any 'service users' have been involved yet?

Bit more info on this funding - it's to cover property costs and support new tenancies for around 15,000 vulnerable people currently housed under “Everyone In.”
There’s funding of £105 million to help councils keep people in the interim accommodation and find suitable move-on properties.
Proposals must demonstrate how the funding will be used to rapidly support those in COVID-19 emergency accommodation. The funding is for use during 2020/21 only.
'First wave funding’ of £161 million is also available to provide 3,300 additional supported homes this year for those currently housed in emergency accommodation (part of previously announced funding of £433 million for govt plans to end rough sleeping).

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Thank you to everyone who has asked a question or posted a key resource so far.

Have you checked out the latest ‘Key Resources’?

We are collating all resources from this Thread’s comments at the top of our Forum thread.

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Part of recovery and future planning - has anyone had any discussions about how to operate Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)?

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Our next questions is- How else can frontline workers and people experiencing homelessness be heard by decision makers?

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We've already mentioned the new guide to working strategically with councils, from Homeless Link and the Local Government Association, it has lots of ideas about how to engage with local decision makers – though building relationships with your council, attending homelessness forums and contributing to local strategies. Recommended reading! https://www.homeless.org.uk/connect/blogs/2020/jul/20/working-in-partnership-to-end-homelessness

Local and national government will hold consultations on new policies or strategies. Sometimes these will be formal consultations about specific policies, or they could be a more open “call for evidence” to hear from the sector about a topic.

Deadlines can be tight but don’t feel you have to answer every question if you don’t have time. Often smaller agencies can feed into larger responses – keep an eye on organisations like Homeless Link, Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), Crisis, and the Frontline Network.

The Coventry Frontline Network blogged about our approach to influencing last year – you can read more here: https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/news-and-views/2019/02/influencing-local-decisions/

Next Steps requirement means that ‘service users’ should be involved with local bids:

“As well as MHCLG, Homes England and the GLA, coproduction should be carried out in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and partners, including service users, support providers, health and social care commissioners, local voluntary organisations, probation services, registered providers and landlords (para 53).” (Next Steps Accommodation Programme Guidance)


We’re running some free training over the next couple of weeks to hopefully incentivise local authorities to reach out to people – everyone welcome! Details will be here so set your bookmarks up! https://www.expertlink.org.uk/training-and-events

Also, we’re also running a free Conversation on Coproduction for anyone interested in getting people with lived experience involved in decisions – details are here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/conversation-on-co-production-next-stepsone-giant-leap-for-co-production-tickets-114914432160

Some of the practicalities of getting services to look at their practices so that co-production becomes the norm are discussed in our training here too: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/co-production-the-essential-nuts-and-bolts-tickets-111680547524

And finally we’re recruiting to our National Advisory Panel. So if you've experienced multiple disadvantages, can communicate opinions and ideas and are digitally enabled, email info@expertlink.org.uk and let us know why you want to join! Deadline Monday 10 August

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That’s all folks!

Thank you very much for taking part in today’s Forum event. Your input was crucial in making sure the conversation was a valuable one, to share key learning on Business Not As Usual, What Needs To Change Beyond C-19?

A big thank you also to Chris, David and Zoe for providing their expert knowledge on this subject, and for answering many of the great questions raised during this event.

Please note that you can continue this conversation by adding to this thread. You can also check out the latest threads on the C-19 Frontline Worker Forum.

Please note we will be running C-19 Q&A Forum events on a weekly basis. You can keep updated on the upcoming events by checking our What’s On.

As this is the third fourth time facilitating an event of this nature, we would welcome any feedback you have on the formatting of this event, by emailing us at frontline@stmartinscharity.org.uk.

Thanks,

Marcus
Frontline Network

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This is an update from Scotland's Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group; tackling homelessness following coronavirus https://www.gov.scot/publications/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-action-group-final-report-tackling-coronavirus/

In Scotland, as part of their 'Everyone Home' commitment- they have also produced a route map for ending the need for nightshelter and hotel provision- https://www.everyonehome.scot/pdf/route-map.pdf

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Carnegie UK Trust have outlined six propositions for the medium term recovery from the COVID-19. These include commitment to national wellbeing, resetting the relationship between state and citizens, remodelling our relationship with work, technology can be for all. See here pandemic. https://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/building-back-for-the-better-a-perspective-from-cukt/

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Brilliant vlog from David Ford at Expert Link on the next steps accommodation programme- excitement, celebration and fear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNuN8x79pZA&feature=youtu.be&mc_cid=3276b2059e&mc_eid=c65211a1eb

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