After a discussion with our management team some months ago, someone stated we had a quieter year than usual, we then spent some time going through what this meant in practice. Putting on paper our “highlights” has been both cathartic and helpful in reviewing our impact as we prepared for our staff conference closely followed by a trustees away day and hopefully continues to demonstrate why we are here. Below was the majority of what we captured.
We continue to deliver our Vulnerable Adults Housing and Wellbeing support contracts in Birmingham which are now fully embedded into the charity following 3 years of operation. All four contracts which support homeless, young adults and ex-offenders have recently been extended for a further two years. In 2022 alone we supported and resettled over 460 people exiting the criminal justice through our work within the JQ ex-offenders hub.
The Resettlement Service UKRS and ARAP (Syrian and Afgan) has reached its current target in terms of new arrivals following several delays over the past two years due to the ongoing pandemic. All expected families have now arrived and are settling into their new homes provided by Spring. The UKRS service started in 2015 and we have reached a point now where many of the original cohorts of arrivals have now gone beyond the 5 years commissioned support and are no longer supported via the Resettlement Service and have now transferred to general needs tenants which is part of the added value that Spring provides on these contracts. The ARAP Service which started in 2021 as a direct result of the Afghanistan war. Both contracts have been extended to March 2023 and are currently being tendered. To date we have housed 257 people (over 50% of which are children) as part of the Afghan Resettlement Programme and over 880 people (over 55% are children) on the Syrian Resettlement Programme. Since the start of the programme in 2015 – 100% of refugees have retained their home (i.e., not been evicted due to rent arrears or tenancy breaches).
Whilst we continue to support the resettlement of both Afghanistan and Syrians – last year we also started additional services to support refugees into work via the Home Office funded Refugee Transitions Outcomes Fund (RTOF) to support qualifying refugees into accommodation, training and employment across Birmingham and Coventry.
Due to the recent war in Ukraine, there has been a large influx of refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK. Spring has been working with refugees under the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme who have arrived in both Birmingham and Solihull to provide support in finding long term accommodation and support to settle and integrate into the local community since August 2022. To date we have undertaken over 140 house inspections assessing hosts homes for safety and suitability and have provided over 150 individuals with housing advice and support.
During the year we were commissioned to offer housing advice to Hong Kong Nationals in Solihull who have come to settle in the area due to the ongoing political tensions with the Chinese government.
Spring continues to expand its accommodation and services within Coventry with the largest site being Hampton Hall which is a 32-bed property aimed to accommodate and support refugee’s in particular customers involved in the RTOF programme. Based on our positive reputation in Coventry we have been appointed by Coventry City Council to deliver repairs and maintenance service for people with Physical and Sensory disabilities.
The Charity has continued to work with Birmingham City Council with the Charter of Rights publication and research in supported exempt accommodation – we are currently working with 103 housing providers (providing over 10,000 bedspaces to people who are homeless/at risk of homelessness across the City) who have agreed to adopt the Charter. In addition to this we were the first provider in Birmingham to achieve the “Gold” star rating as part of the Quality standards for Supported Exempt Accommodation’ by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council and Birmingham City Council.
In 2022 we released our second research and best practice report into women and rough sleeping, ‘The Small Victories’. This report, along with the earlier Violence under Quiet Conditions (2021) continues to have local and national impact. Several local authorities and women’s charities have been in touch with us to discuss the issues and how they can evidence the need for better practice in their local areas. In 2022 we were invited to give the keynote speech on women and homelessness at the Luton Homeless Partnership conference and were invited to sit on Homeless Link’s new women and Homelessness National System’s Change Network. Our research on this topic has been quoted numerous times by a recent Homeless Link publication, ‘Myth Busting Women’s Homelessness’ and we have been invited to speak on this topic at Centrepoint’s national conference in March 2023.
Our work with people experiencing continues and we are the lead provider for women who are street homeless in Birmingham – we have successful housed over 100% of our projected target. As a result of our ongoing work on women experiencing homelessness, we have been working with Birmingham City Council around issues within, and solutions to, period poverty and period stigma within homeless communities and homelessness services. Our research on this topic and our proposal for change was picked up by Birmingham City Council Public Health, and we have recently won a tender to begin a pioneering training and development programme from February 2023, our first funding from a statutory health agency.
Throughout 2022 we have been working on a research report to mark the first three years of our Offenders Housing and Wellbeing Support Service. This has garnered a great deal of support and interest from the criminal justice sector, and we will be releasing this report early in 2023.
The influence of our pathbreaking research and good practice work around exempt accommodation has continued throughout 2022. We have spoken at several high-profile events on exempt, such as Commonweal’s ‘Experts on Exempt’ series and Birmingham City Council’s national exempt conference. We submitted an evidence report to the parliamentary inquiry on exempt accommodation in January 2022, and our submission was quoted several times in their final evidence report. Similarly, our report, Exempt from Responsibility? was quoted numerous times in a House of Commons Library research briefing on this topic in June 2022. This is alongside the same research being referenced in the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping and the Charter of Rights being cited as good practice in National Statement of Expectations for Supported Housing. Finally, our research and recommendations have formed the backbone of government commitments for change, and are strongly reflected in a Private Members’ Bill, Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) that was introduced into parliament in 2022. We have also been working with domestic abuse charities and women’s homelessness services about the potential to adaption our Charter of Rights to women-only service environments.
We are also currently supporting six victims of modern-day slavery and have just been awarded a grant to continue this crucial work
Earlier in the year The Fred Winter Centre opened its doors to both customers and support services as a multi-agency support hub for those at risk of homelessness with a focus on alleviating homelessness, poverty and creating employment. The Centre is the first of its kind to be opened in Warwickshire. The Centre has been supported by many partners including, St Peters HA, Homes England, Stratford District Council, Warwickshire County Council, Garfield Weston, Stratford Town Trust & Stratford Town Council plus several other charities and trusts, all whom have contributed towards the refurbishment of the former department store into a support centre which includes 15 affordable apartments. The centre has already received two awards around planning and design and best new social enterprise.
The partnership with Stratford District Council has also earned Spring an additional contract working with people in temporary accommodation which includes managing 41 units of accommodation ranging from shared houses up to 3 bed family houses and supporting those customers to move into permanent accommodation. This sits alongside the NSAP contract where we support and house rough sleepers in independent affordable accommodation.
Our work in housing rough sleepers through a housing first style initiative in Lichfield and Cannock continues to deliver excellent outcomes we co-hosted a visit from Government officials from DLUHC and our contract was extended in June 2022 for a further year.
Our Community Digital Hub continues to grow, providing a range of digital opportunities and events for customers and local communities – membership of the Hub has grown greatly especially in response to isolation felt during the pandemic with over 500 members now registered. To compliment this work, we have been awarded two grants from the NNS (Neighbourhood Network Scheme) to further support over 50’s and under 50’s (in particular those with a learning disability) to reduce the impact on and support Adult Social Care in the local area, (Perry Barr Ward).
Suffice to say none of the above include our day to day work working with people experiencing homelessness.
This is Spring all year round. Thanks for reading