Housing minister praises Salvation Army’s Housing First work
Housing minister Kevin Stewart has seen first-hand the impact of Housing First during a visit to a Salvation Army-run hub in Glasgow.
Mr Stewart met service users who have been given permanent homes along with intensive personal support to help them out of homelessness.
The minister spoke to two service users, Kevin and Graham, to hear how the initiative is improving their lives. Both men became homeless after suffering relationship breakdowns but said Housing First and the support of specially-trained Salvation Army staff had helped them turned their lives around – and enabled them to finally feel like they belonged somewhere.
Mr Stewart said: “It was great to speak to Kevin and Graham to hear how Housing First has worked for them. Scotland is on a journey in terms of implementing Housing First and I’m really pleased that the Salvation Army is playing a part in that.”
The Salvation Army is a key provider of Housing First services in Scotland. The church and charity is commissioned by Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (GHSCP), in partnership with the Wheatley Group and Social Bite to provide 75 units of Housing First accommodation and offer intensive support to those with experience of sustained and recurrent periods of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness. The Salvation Army currently supports 28 individuals in their homes and is working with a further 24 people who have been referred to the service.
Crucial to the success of Housing First is the support worker whose first job, before helping someone move into a tenancy, is to identify their needs. For many people going through Housing First, their primary concern is financial - how they are going to pay bills and claim benefits, for starters.
Salvation Army staff also make sure people are registered at their new address and their utilities are in place. Health and wellbeing is another priority and staff will help people register with a GP and go to any medical appointments with them.
Joe, who has been supporting Kevin and Graham for the past few months, said: “As a specialist support worker we have experience in a lot of areas, such as helping people with their benefits, mental health issues and addictions.
“The support we give is flexible - we sit down and look at all areas of someone’s life. Some weeks people will need more support than others. We’re not there to do things for people but rather work with the person so they can identify and achieve what they want and need.
“We do a lot of practical things but a lot of it is emotional support. A lot of people we work with don’t have family connections anymore and can feel isolated. We explore how to reconnect people with their community by identifying the person’s interest and linking this to what is available in their area. For example, voluntary work and social activities.”
He added: “A lot of the success in the service we provide is based on the relationships we have with the people we support and their wider support network. In Kevin and Graham’s case, they deserve a lot of credit for the desire they have shown and how far they have come in a short space of time. Both guys have now been offered a training opportunity with the Wheatley Group, which is really well deserved.”
During the visit, Mr Stewart presented Salvation Army homelessness staff with Investors in People awards for their work with young people and improving health and wellbeing.
Investors in People is a standard for people management and organisation, offering accreditation to agencies and businesses that adhere to the IIP standard.
The judging panel praised the Salvation Army for having a “strong culture focussed on supporting all members of staff to achieve their full potential” and putting “values at the heart of everything”.