An estimated 280,000 people are homeless in England, according to research by Shelter at the end of 2019. In Scotland, 36,465 homelessness applications were made in 2018-19, and 29,894 households were assessed as homeless by their local authority. This equates to a household losing their home every 18 minutes.
But breaking the cycle of homelessness isn’t straightforward. Although safe accommodation and employment are instrumental in getting a homeless person back on their feet, they should be provided as part of a package of support depending on the individual’s circumstances to have the highest chance of success.
And last year that’s exactly what Fife-based Kingdom Housing Association (KHA) decided it wanted to begin offering. Andrew Latto, KHA’s interim director of HR, says the group was keen to “truly transform lives” by providing additional support to the people it serves, as well diversifying the organisation’s own talent pool.
In 2019, KHA launched the Naumann initiative to provide homeless individuals with a job, accommodation and other support they need to make the transition to having a stable home and meaningful employment. Latto says the idea came from ‘housing first’ – a model that prescribes safe and permanent housing as the first priority for people experiencing homelessness. “People who are homeless often have quite chaotic lives,” he explains. “We realised that as well as safe accommodation, employment can help these individuals make that transition by re-establishing structure, rebuilding self-esteem and giving a sense of purpose.”
It was a “natural progression” for KHA to launch the initiative, Latto says. It already had an employability project, and found it would be easy to combine this with its existing housing works. Coincidentally, the organisation already planned to recruit a new tenancy sustainment worker – a role that provides support to the 150 homeless families KHA helps each year. “Who better to support people who have been homeless than someone who’s experienced it themselves?” Latto says.
Through the Naumann initiative, KHA recruited two members of staff, including the tenancy sustainment worker role. “The initiative has had a profound impact on the lives of the people we recruited – not to mention the benefit it has had for our customers and our organisation,” says Latto.
He adds that KHA plans to develop the initiative further through its trainee programme and by working with other businesses to provide employment. “We want to mimic our graduate programme,” Latto explains. “Individuals will be able to work across various placements for two years before choosing their specialisation.”
KHA planned to fully launch the trainee programme earlier this year, but it was put on hold because of the pandemic. However, it aims to start advertising the initiative in January 2021, with the first cohort set to be welcomed in April.