Aberdeen Cyrenians welcomes commitment to Housing First from all political parties

Aberdeen Cyrenians is welcoming the commitment from all Holyrood political parties to support the Housing First approach in their manifestos.

As the lead organisation of the local Pathfinder project, the most successful in Scotland with no evictions and 93% sustainment of housing, Housing First plays a vital role in ending homelessness in the north east for those affected by trauma, abuse, addictions and mental ill health.

The Housing First approach provides normal, settled housing for people as quickly as possible, rather than at the end of a long process that often fails to prevent or end homelessness. It uses a person-centred approach that provides a support package tailored to each individual.

The Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire Pathfinder program is a collaborative partnership between Aberdeen Cyrenians, Aberdeen Foyer, Turning Point Scotland, and both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils.

Mike Burns, chair of the Pathfinder in the north east and chief executive of Aberdeen Cyrenians, said: “The Housing First Pathfinder Program in the City of Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire will meet all targets set in 2018 and contributes to the clear evidence that the model provides individuals with multiple and complex needs the support they need to be settled in homes of their own.

“It’s an easy statement and an obvious thought for the majority of us: ‘A home of our own’ but if you have spent the last decade or many years in and out of homelessness, at odds with the criminal justice system suffering from a lifetime of trauma, eviction, addiction and chronic mental health then think again about that statement.

“The challenge for so many of our Housing First program participants was accepting that they would not be re-traumatised in a system that was going to make them prove they were worth a home.

“With tenancy sustainment rates of 93%, the highest in Scotland, for people who had previously struggled to maintain a tenancy, their hard work towards their own recovery must be acknowledged. Dealing with decades of trauma does not happen on its own, breaking the cycle of homelessness, over many years and in some cases decades, has been ours and their biggest success to date.”

He added: “Across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire we have not had one eviction of those 115 people currently on the Housing First program, due to the strong partnership working and effective collaboration.”

As the Housing First Pathfinder program here in Scotland transitions to mainstream delivery, Mike Burns said the most important lesson we can learn is this: ‘Working with people that have suffered for many years from trauma and multiple complex needs, takes intensive interventions which are consistent and focused on the needs of the individual, as opposed to what the services can offer. Trust takes time to develop and through the use of key practitioners allocated to each participant, with the support they provide to improving life outcomes, we can turn lives around’.

He addeD: “It shouldn’t go without saying then, that to produce these results for people requires long-term consistency which is only possible with the commitment of all our politicians from all parties, to bring homelessness to an end. That’s why the commitment for all parties to acknowledge and support the Housing First model in their manifesto is a key step in ending homelessness across Scotland.”

Aberdeen Cyrenians said that working together, the impact and opportunity to fulfil the ambition of ending homelessness has never been closer.

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