A new partnership aimed at providing better and more consistent support services for homeless people in Bristol has launched today (14 November) at Bristol City Council.
Partners from St Mungo’s, Second Step, The Salvation Army, ARA and other agencies who work with the homeless came together to mark the start of new way of working called the Bristol Pathway.
The £5.3 million per year service commissioned by Bristol City Council will consist of four pathways to recovery:
Pathway One – Men only accommodation led by The Salvation Army
Pathway Two – mixed accommodation led by Second Step
Pathway Three – Women only accommodation led by St Mungo’s
Pathway Four – Substance misuse Housing led by ARA
Each pathway is provided under a five year contract with an option to extend for a further two years. It avoids a competition between bidding organisations and focuses on working together to get the best possible services. Each lead organisation will manage the budget for their pathway and all partners in the pathway will operate as a single team to provide a consistent service.
These services are divided into levels of support, ranging from L1 – high support with 24 hour staffing to L4 – low support for people preparing to live independently.
Referrals are made into the accommodation appropriate to the needs of the individual. As people recover from homelessness they move down to the appropriate level(s) before moving out to settled accommodation, with a period of support to help make this successful.
As someone enters the pathway, there will be a robust, strengths based assessment of that person’s needs and aspirations, with every person having a tailored plan for their ‘journey’ of recovery away from homelessness. Strength based means looking at the positive tools a client may have to help their recovery instead of focusing on their risks.
Moving from one service to another will be fluid, a decision taken by the pathway partnership together rather than by individual providers, giving a much smoother transition for the person.
Councillor Paul Smith said: “We have taken a new approach to funding these services, building on the relationships between organisations and asking them to share responsibility for helping people to achieve their aspirations and recover from homelessness.
“At a time when affordable housing in Bristol is very difficult to access, it is vital that services are better matched to people's needs and that we are doing all we can to encourage independence for residents, enabling them to move more quickly into mainstream housing as their support needs are met.”
Helen Denyer, St Mungo’s Regional Head said: “We are excited to be working together with our partners to provide high quality services to women. It important that we offer our women a service that recognises the unique experience of women who are homeless, and supports them to rebuild their lives, overcoming the challenges they face to be successful in their recovery.”
The Salvation Army’s Director of Homelessness Services, Mitch Menagh said: “The Salvation Army has a long history of supporting people who are experiencing homelessness. This new partnership increases our ability to respond to homelessness in Bristol and is an expansion of the support already offered by The Salvation Army as a church and charity in the city through our existing Lifehouse, local churches, community programmes and employment services. We are very much looking forward to working with our partners to provide the necessary support.”
Aileen Edwards, Chief Executive of Bristol-based mental health charity Second Step said: “We’re delighted at the streamlined approach being taken to tackle homelessness in Bristol. We will be responsible for leading the mixed accommodation service and are excited about working with our partner providers to bring more effectiveness and improved outcomes.”
ARA said: “ARA is privileged to lead the Pathway Four – Substance Misuse housing pathway along with our partners at The Junction Project and The Salvation Army. We are delighted to be working with Bristol City Council and the other pathways tackling the issues of homelessness in Bristol. We have been working in the city for the past 30 years helping people to recover from the scourge of problem substance misuse. This new contract enables us all to work very closely on the issue of homelessness, a problem that we are passionate to tackle.”