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‘A Fresh Start’ from Justlife

‘A Fresh Start’ from Justlife

‘A Fresh Start’ from Justlife

Friday, April 26, 2019
Justlife are one of our Frontline Network partners based in Brighton and work to make people’s experience of vulnerable housing as short, safe and healthy as possible. In 2017 a frontline worker at Justlife put forward an idea which we funded to provide a pack of basic supplies for people moving into emergency accommodation, such as towels and cooking utensils. Their experience had found that when individuals were moved into temporary accommodation, they would only be provided with a bed and cooker but no cooking equipment or crockery. This meant that often people would be left feeling isolated and uncomfortable in their homes, leading to them abandoning or be evicted from their accommodation after failing to adhere to conditions. 
 
The idea behind ‘A Fresh Start’ was that move-in packs would help people feel more at home as well as allowing people to do simple day-to-day tasks like cooking for themselves which those entering temporary accommodation can often struggle with. This would increase people’s wellbeing and in turn lead to a reduction in the number of people abandoning or being evicted from emergency accommodation. Following consultation with frontline workers across the city, and those who had experienced living in temporary accommodation, other items such as alarm-clock radios and notebooks were also included in the packs.
 
Between February and September 2018, Justlife and 5 other agencies distributed 70 move-in packs in Brighton and Hove. 
 
Some of those who received the packs included:
- An individual who had been street homeless for a number of years, resulting in a number of health issues meaning that they were unable to go out much. The pack meant that they could listen to the radio whilst cooking, something which they hadn’t been able to do before. A folder was also provided in the pack, which was extremely useful for appointments and they also used the bag the pack came in for trips to the laundry. Their support worker commented that this person was proud to own some ‘nice things’.
- Another person had a history of abandoning properties after a few weeks. In this case, the pack played a significant role in helping them sustain their accommodation and building trust with their frontline worker. Their support worker reported that they were more engaged and that the person’s self-care had improved, along with their ability to comply with the requirements for keeping their accommodation. 
- One person had nothing for their accommodation, which made them extremely anxious and unable to focus on anything else. The pack allowed them to start creating a home and feel more secure. Again, the pack also helped build trust with their support worker, who was also then able to assist with other issues related to their housing, health and income. 
 
Frontline workers reflected on the impact of the packs, saying that it could be stressful to leave those they were supporting in empty rooms and that the packs helped alleviate some of this stress. Echoing the comments made above, support workers also found that people were more likely to engage with support and that the packs also gave them things to talk about such as what they heard on the radio or healthy eating. It also helped contribute to people’s feelings of self-worth, from one person who had their own towel for the first time in months and for others who found the radio useful in distracting them from the unfamiliar noises in their accommodation. Even something like the bag which the pack was provided in helped improve people’s sense of dignity as often a person’s possessions, if they had any, were moved in bin bags.
 
Frontline workers found that the overwhelming response was how emotional people have become when given the pack and that the packs had gone beyond meeting someone’s basic needs and helped them see that people do care. 
 
Justlife found the content of the packs and target group worked well and that making them available through other agencies was also beneficial as referrals for the packs also came from other local organisations working with those experiencing homelessness and the local authority. Frontline workers had noted that the items in the packs may be things that people wouldn’t have thought of themselves, such as an organiser or clock radio, but ultimately improved a person’s quality of life and help make their accommodation feel more like a home. Justlife have received further funding to make up more packs to distribute. They are also exploring how the local community can be involved in fundraising for the packs, whilst also educating and raising awareness around the issues of those experiencing homelessness. 
 
Thank you to Kate at Justlife for sharing their story, and if you have an idea that you would like funding, you can submit it online via our Ideas Board
 
We are currently looking into developing new funding for move in packs, and although this is in the early stages of development, we would be keen to hear from anyone who has had experience of providing similar move in packs – get in touch with us at frontline@stmartinscharity.org.uk
 
 

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