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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Luke is a debt and housing advisor for Coventry Citizens Advice, and he applied to St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity’s Training Fund to attend training on Homelessness Law and Allocation. The main purpose of this training was to assist Luke in advising clients about their housing rights and entitlements. 

Coventry Citizens Advice are part of the Citizens Advice network, offering confidential advice to people on issues such as housing, benefits, energy and debt. The organisation also facilitates our Coventry Frontline Network, which provides a space for frontline workers in Coventry and the wider Midlands area to raise issues, identify best practice, build relationships and learn from each other. All of this helps to obtain the best outcomes for the people frontline workers support. 

The project Luke currently works for is called REACH, and it helps people with any kind of housing related issue, with ongoing support until the individual is settled in their accommodation, or until no further action can be taken. Soon, Luke will be moving into a new role in generalist advice services.  

“I think homelessness is one of the most complicated areas of law. There’s so much legislation, and so much to know.” 

Our training fund exists to help frontline workers in their roles, meaning they can better support their clients. Luke describes how the training he attended will do this.  

“You just need so much in-depth knowledge on case law, specialist knowledge, just to be able to construct an argument that the Council will listen to. So it will be really good, and I’m going to bring that knowledge to help my clients going forwards.” 

Luke's training will help him to secure the best outcomes for the people he works with, as he will be equipped with more knowledge on what is quite a complex area of law, even for the people who work in it day-to-day. This is proving true already, as Luke has been able to apply his learning to help one of his clients to be owed the main housing duty.  

“The training came at a good time for me, because at the time I had a client who was accused of being intentionally homeless. Having in-depth training at the same time, was actually quite useful when it came to trying to help and to advise that client. We managed to make an argument for him and fortunately, the Council agreed that he wasn’t intentionally homeless after all, and that he would likely to be owed the main housing duty.” 

Many organisations that work with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness have quite stretched budgets, and therefore often can’t afford training for staff. Our Training Fund tries to remove this barrier for frontline workers, ensuring they’re able to improve their skills and knowledge. Doing this ensures that people experiencing and at risk of homelessness receive the best support they can.  

“There’s always a lot of training that needs to be done, and I’m glad the fund exists because my organisation doesn’t have much of a training fund. Having the Frontline Network being able to fund that is quite important.” 

If you are a frontline worker or team and have identified a training course that will help you in your current work with people experiencing homelessness, but your organisation is not able to fund it, we may be able to help. Individuals can apply for up to £500 to cover the cost of training and groups can apply for up to £1,500. 

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