Kingdom Housing Association pioneers new approach to combat homelessness

Kingdom Housing Association is pioneering an innovative new project that aims to break the vicious circle of homelessness and unemployment by simultaneously giving a homeless person a job, a home and support with any complex needs or barriers to sustaining their tenancy.

Kingdom Housing Association pioneers new approach to combat homelessness

(from left) Bill Banks, Cllr Judy Hamilton, Laurie Naumann and Gavin Smith

Earlier this year, Kingdom was the first employer in the UK to guarantee shortlisting for all its job vacancies to applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role and who have been registered homeless in the preceding 12 months. Now Kingdom is again breaking new ground with the Naumann Initiative.

Named after Laurie Naumann, a founding member of Kingdom Housing Association and its current vice-chair, the initiative is designed to help people who are unemployed homeless into work and decent housing.

The first role Kingdom is filling through the Naumann Initiative is a Tenancy Sustainment Worker. In that role, the successful person will support other people who have experienced homelessness help them make the transition to take up a home with Kingdom.

Applicants do not require experience of that type work as full training will be provided. And Kingdom reports that the position has attracted considerable interest from homeless people.

Kingdom, which provides housing for around 100 homeless families each year, held a support day at Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline to promote the initiative to partner organisations and to provide assistance to potential applicants.

At the event, Bill Banks, the Kingdom group chief executive, said: “The post will be a permanent job and the tenancy will provide a home which is not linked to the job, therefore it will be a secure and sustainable tenancy.

“The first six months of the job will be dedicated to building the post holder’s capacity, skills and knowledge and providing practical on the job training.

“Therefore, we are not looking for someone with direct housing experience, it is more about recruiting someone who will understand the issues that impact on homeless people when they try to take up a tenancy and someone who will be able to identify the issues and provide the personalised support required.”

Bill added: “As well as the direct services we provide which help tackle homelessness, Kingdom believes that we should also use our position as an employer to supplement that. The stigma that sometimes comes with homelessness means that gaining employment can be difficult for homeless people. Through our guaranteed shortlisting scheme and the Naumann Initiative, we are sending a clear message that homelessness will not be a barrier to working with us.

“I hope other employers will be able to follow this initiative and develop similar projects which help to address homelessness, through employment opportunities.”

Kingdom Housing Association pioneers new approach to combat homelessness

Bill Banks, Judy Hamilton and KHA board members Laurie Naumann, Guy Thomson, Laura Brotherton and Iain Connelly

Judy Hamilton, Fife Council housing convenor, said: “At a time when homelessness is increasing in Scotland, I congratulate the Kingdom Group on the Naumann Initiative, which is innovative in challenging some of the complex issues around homelessness. It is compassionate in its approach and sector-leading. I hope that other housing providers can learn from it and roll it out more widely, and I look forward to working in partnership to support it.”

Laurie Naumann added: “Experiencing homelessness has many more challenges than simply not having a roof over your head. It can lead to a loss of self-esteem, social isolation, financial challenges and a lack of structure in day to day life. Employment helps resolve all those issues so, through the Naumann Initiative, we will address all those issues and, I hope, help to transform the life of the successful applicant. I am very proud to be associated with such a positive and innovative initiative particularly given the project is being implemented in the year of Kingdom’s 40th anniversary.”

Gavin Smith, Fife Council’s service manager for housing access and homelessness, said: “We know that making the transition from homelessness to stable accommodation can be very challenging for individuals. Someone who has themselves experienced homelessness will be especially well positioned to support those individuals make that transition.”

The current vacancy being filled through the Naumann Initiative closes on 14 June. More details can be found on Kingdom’s website under ‘jobs’.

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