Sefton Council topped the Best Initiative for Tackling Homelessness category at this week’s Northern Housing Awards for its Sefton Families Service.
Launched in 2019 by Sefton Council and housing association Riverside, the Sefton Families Service offers families two- or three-bed furnished Riverside homes near networks of intensive support. All homes supplied through the scheme are furnished, including; sofas, beds, white goods and kitchen equipment.
Sefton Families Service provides families the option to transfer the home from temporary to general needs tenancy after the support. This approach helps families settle immediately into a home-for-life, near schools, family and friends, and as part of the community.
An independent service evaluation showed all Sefton Families Service were happy or very happy with their home with some saying it exceeded their expectations. Their location, particularly proximity to services, was cited as a key benefit along with a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood.
Thes findings ensured the service met the Awards criteria requirements of ‘a proven track record in helping to put a roof over people’s heads’ and ‘wider support’ and ‘tangible evidence of how people’s circumstances have changed’. So far, 37 families have been supported through the Sefton Families Service and none of them have re-presented as homeless.
As well as having a positive impact on families’ health, wellbeing and financial situation, the scheme’s coordinated approach has meant the more efficient use of the Council and its partners’ services. It has been calculated that the Sefton Families Service delivers £3.36 of benefit for every £1 spent.
During a service evaluation during COVID that included phone interviews with families that have been part of the Service, one participant said:
“Myself and my family are so thankful for all the support we have been given by our support worker. Our lives have been improved and our children are so much more settled and happier in themselves”
Sefton Council and Riverside meet monthly to discuss Sefton Families Service cases, concerns and areas for improvement. Regular reports are shared with Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing Officers.
Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said:
“I am delighted that our Sefton Families Service has won this award, it is a tribute to everyone who has been involved in its development and ongoing management.
“But I am even more delighted that the scheme is having such a positive impact on the day-to-day lives of nearly 40 Sefton families who before they were part of it were facing a range of issues, including homelessness. And demonstrating financial value to the Borough.
“We set up the Sefton Families Service in late 2019, as part of our Homelessness Strategy, when there was only temporary hostel accommodation available for families. People were having to move away from their existing support networks and could face several moves before stable accommodation was offered.
“Now, thanks to the Service, those families can be settled into a potentially permanent home with the support they need around them. This results in a range of tangible benefits, including in terms of health, and provides a stability that helps them put down roots.”
Dot Kelly, Regional Operations Manager at Riverside said: “We are absolutely delighted to be part of this outstanding, award-winning service. This is such an innovative project and its success is only possible through true partnership working.
“As an organisation one of our primary aims is homelessness prevention and in keeping with that it is especially pleasing that this service has made such a positive impact on the lives of so many families across the Borough”.
The Northern Housing Awards judges said:
“The success of this scheme is unquestionable, with a 100% success rate in terms of families remaining in homes.
“The well-thought-through approach to resolving outmoded practices is impressive.
“A super example and well evidenced throughout.”
In late 2022, Sefton Council commissioned the Sefton Families Service for a further two years.
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