Minutes of meeting: November 2023

6th All-Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

Date: 22/11/2023
Time: 16.00-17.00
Location: Room M, Portcullis House

Joint Secretariats: Shared Health Foundation (SHF) and Justlife (JL)

Attendees:
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Salford & Eccles, Labour), Sam Pratt (SHF), Laura Edwards and Chris Dabbs (Unlimited Potential), Debbie Blackburn (Salford City Council), Martyn Hague (ForHousing), and Members of the Salford Co-production Project (Unlimited Potential).

Number of attendees online: 45

Purpose:

To introduce the Salford Co-production group and their Good Homes presentation. Funded by Public Health on behalf of the Salford’s Health & Wellbeing Board, the Co-production group brings together the local people of Salford and senior professionals to work collaboratively to improve the lives of their communities. The Good Homes project is delivered by Unlimited Potential and aims to provide useful information for young people and families navigating the homeless journey.

Meeting

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP (Vice Chair) opened the meeting at 4pm.

Laura Edwards

Project Co-ordinator for Unlimited Potential:

  • The Salford co-production project is funded by health and wellbeing board at Public Health Salford City Council because it was deemed necessary to reduce health inequalities that were greatest in Salford.
  • Previous attempts to solve the issue did not work.
  • Co-production is a helpful tool that can bring:
  • 1. Depth of understanding into an issue that only comes with lived experience.
  • 2. Knowledge as well as the ability to make the change that only senior professionals can make.
    3. Passion and commitment to make a difference.
  • Co-production is about sharing power. Bringing local people and local decision makers together in the same room as equals.
  • As it is a different way of working, the solutions are often innovative, such as this magazine on Good Homes.

Salford Co-production group

15 members of the group presented the Good Homes magazine, with some sharing their lived experience of navigating homelessness from a young age.

Shaquille:

  • Process of being involved has been very exciting and a real opportunity to make the places we live in better.
  • Me and Laura met at a community centre where it was explained what the co-production was about.
  • Laura also met members of the group, in young carers, young parents and coffee shops.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council:

  • Co-production has changed the way we work with our residents, changing policies that are in line with the needs of our population.
  • This has given us the perspective on how we look at the wider determinants of health.
  • Work and good homes are our hierarchy of need. We need to co-produce these needs with our residents to get the basic principles right and reduce the health inequalities in our city.

Jordan:

  • A good homes approach would reduce pressure on Temporary Accommodation by helping families early on.
  • Most of us have lived in TA during a difficult time with our families. If the right help was provided to our families, it would have likely prevented us from further homelessness, giving us a good home.
  • As young people thinking about our own lives, we felt a priority had to be about homes. Most of us have been homeless and living in TA and we don’t want others to go through what we have. Homes are about stability and security.
  • This is why we want a good homes strategy, not housing.
  • We worked with a service designer to create a model of what a good home means.

(Copies of model shared amongst members of the meeting).

Chris Dabbs from Unlimited Potential:

  • The magazine produced is a short-term solution, and the model that has just been shared is the basis of a long-term strategy on how we plan to address this issue.
  • This isn’t just about housing, bricks, and mortar. This is about how we can support people to create a home.
  • Children most importantly, need stability and security in where they live.
  • If we can create homes and support people to have homes, with the implication of agencies such as children’s services, social services, and housing services together, then we can prevent health inequalities.
  • This is why we want to put the emphasis on homes, not housing.

Olivia:

  • We initially grouped together because there wasn’t many resources or information about how to run a home, so we co-designed the Good Homes magazine and made it accessible to all.
  • As most of us have come from TA or the care system, we all struggled when moving into to our new homes. For example, when I moved into my own house, I found it hard to get in contact with the right people to help with maintenance repairs that were needed in the property. As I had just turned 18, with a newborn, this made me feel isolated and down. I know that if I had this magazine, it would’ve have helped me out of that situation massively.
  • This magazine has been handed out to TAs, Housing associations and local community organisations. Greater Manchester Authorities are also looking to print copies of it.
  • We made it for Salford, but this magazine is not just for Salford, it is for everyone who needs it.

Martyn Hague (ForHousing):

  • We, as housing professionals, also find the housing system confusing. This magazine covers that and tries to explain the system in simpler language.
  • Not everyone knows who to speak to when an issue arises, so we got access to roles across all services in housing associations and interviewed them.
  • We asked them to explain their roles and what support they could provide, as well as advise on how people could get that support.

MJ:

  • A lot of people who have lived or are living in TA have felt lonely, anxious and/or confused. These feelings topple with our own past traumas and make the whole experience daunting and negative to look back on.
  • Having support for people during these challenging moments in their lives would be essential to the wellbeing of the residents. Most common problem we experience is isolation, relationship break downs, being moved into housing in areas we are not familiar with, and lack of support.
  • Lack of maintenance and standards of care for the places we are staying in are a huge problem. Because the accommodation is Temporary, the issues do not get resolved quickly.
  • Moving out at such a young age, lacking the knowledge and skills of housing, cooking, and managing bills without support, can leave you in a constant cycle of struggle. This can set you up for failure.
  • TA should not equal temporary support.

Ellie:

  • Often people come to TA feeling isolated and alone.
  • It is paramount that TA organisations have resources in place to support the tenant and help them socialise with other people in similar situations.
  • In terms of finding employment while in TA, continued support at getting a full-time job is needed.
  • Universal credit should not decrease and rent increase as soon as tenant gets a full-time job. This makes it difficult for the tenant to make enough to pay for their rent, bills, and food every month.
  • To prevent recurrence of these situations, a phased approach to rent increases in line with living wage would be an appropriate solution.
  • We would like to know how you can incorporate that into your manifestos.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council:

  • We need to commission services that deliver a meaningful experience. Engage with the lived experiences, support them, and give them the tools to be independent and resilient.
  • Support should not end at 25.
  • We must tailor services to support people with Adverse Childhood Experiences, and neurodivergence and help children get the best experience during their homeless journey.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

Gives thanks to the Salford Co-production group for their presentation, courage, and passion for making change within their communities. Rebecca Long-Bailey MP then proceeds to open the Q&A.

Q&A

RLB: What spurred you on to come together and demand for change?

Ellie: Laura brought us all together with our different experiences. We all had a mutual feeling that systems needed to change which ignited that fire to make the change ourselves. The more we came together to discuss it the more real it became. Making the magazine and being here only inspires more to make a difference in our communities.

Danny: When Laura first found me, I was in the young parents group. I had two little girls and with all that I had been through in life, I could never imagine my kids going through that. My main motivation was to make things better so that my kids would have a life they deserve.

MJ: It helped that we were also getting paid to work together – it made us feel that we were being taken seriously.

Danny: The support with transport was also very helpful in getting us to and from the place. For example, we would be supplied with bus passes if the meeting was quite far to get to.

RLB: What would you like to see in the Labour party manifesto? What change would you like to see?

Danny: To make access with Salford home search accessible for those who are homeless. For example, I was unable to create an account to search for a council property when I was homeless because I did not have an address. How are you supposed to have an address if you are homeless? This forced me to go to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) which then meant I was unable to get council property. I am stuck paying extortionate prices to prevent homelessness again.

Ellie: Introduce a phased approach to the rent increases when in full-time employment and living in TA. Without that it forces you into a never-ending cycle where you stay stuck in a poorly maintained accommodation. A support network is also crucial.

Julia: Making resources such as this magazine more available. Making sure anyone can access the information in an easy-to-understand format can grant people the support they need. Knowledge is key.

Danny: I am a big believer that schools do not teach you the basic life skills that you get thrown into at a young age. The information available is unhelpful and full of jargon. Better support and clearer information would be beneficial.

Debbie Blackburn from Salford City Council: Organisations need to be trauma responsive when supporting residents in TA which includes the language used. There are many young people entering homelessness who are neurodivergent and/or suffering from trauma, who are left unsupported and isolated. The language used can trigger trauma which can lead to more oppression.

Jane (Online): I am interested to hear what the young people think are important to make a place a home rather than just a house and did you see TA as a home?

MJ: We believe being a good home requires:

  1. Being ingrained into the community.
  2. Living near green spaces with places to walk and exercise.
  3. Having good transport links.
  4. Support from housing provider.
  5. Maintenance.

Danny: Knowing you can wake up the next morning without having to worry about how to get your next meal, whether you can afford your gas and/or electric and living in a good area and feeling comfortable where you are.

Julia: Little things can make a house a home. A place where you can call a space your own and decorate it with things that you like to make you feel more settled and safer in your own space.

Ellie: I believe having a safe and secure place, where the property is well maintained is most important. It doesn’t matter how much you decorate it, if you don’t feel safe, you can’t call it a home.

RLB: What can we do now as an APPG, to help you realise the potential you have, to make the change needed for our societies? It could be helping you to write to each political party a set of demands on their manifestos, or doing something more locally in your area and encouraging other areas to follow.

MJ:

  1. Spread the word.
  2. Informing people in your own communities and creating communities to voice out change.

Danny: Setting up similar strategies like in Salford in other places to help those most vulnerable get the support that they need.

Ellie: The magazine is a great baseline that is not only reserved for residents of Salford but for whoever needs it. Spreading the word and talking to your MPs will help materialise change.

Brenda (Online): You mention that more support for your family was needed before entering homelessness. What would that support look like?

Danny: It comes down to the parents themselves and what support they’re willing to offer to the young person. However, I found there is no real support for domestic issues for families. This can be very detrimental for a young person.

Ellie: Ensuring that there is a nurturing environment for the child that can be found via a support network rather than support workers. I would also recommend having building blocks of how to live independently as you grow up without having to fend for yourself.

Jordan: Support on providing knowledge would be very helpful for a young person. Some parents could pass on knowledge to their and other children on housing.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

Proposes the APPG to write a letter to the Prime Minister and party leaders with the list of the Co-production’s group demands to highlight the changes needed to help support those navigating the homeless journey.

RLB then concluded the meeting.

Meeting was concluded at 15:50.

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