CAYSH is a registered charity in London. Our aim is that every young person is safely housed and has a chance to fulfil their potential. Established in 1981, we currently house 220+ and advise 1600+ young people facing homelessness each year.
CAYSH operates supported housing services in the London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. Supported housing services provide a safe and secure home for young people for 12 to 18 months (average) and the necessary support from our staff for young people to develop independence skills required to move on and begin to achieve their ambitions. Most people get this sort of support from families of course, and often take it for granted. For those that can’t, there’s CAYSH.
Typically our supported housing services have three to six young people living in their own rooms in a shared house. CAYSH operates more than 30 properties across the two boroughs. Some accommodation includes self-contained units, but normally bathrooms, kitchens and gardens are shared. We always try to reflect the needs and wishes of young people referred to us when placing them. Consequently some properties are for 16/17s and some for young people aged 18+. Some are solely for young women or young men, and some are mixed.
The common feature across CAYSH accommodation is the attention we pay to safety and security of our service users and their neighbours. In addition to the regular presence of CAYSH staff seven days a week, CAYSH Concierge attend each property regularly through the night to make sure all is calm and everybody is safe.
Our first focus is always the wellbeing of young people in need of a safe home and a path to fulfilling their potential. To achieve this aim we involve young people in the design and delivery of our services, and co-author their SMART Support and Risk Assessment Plans which focus on meeting the requirements of the Outcomes Framework. Staff introduce ‘reality-checks’ and encourage ambition as necessary and plans include a strong focus on employment, education and training.
CAYSH’s service-user led focus has resulted in A and A/B scores on various Supporting People QAF assessments in recent years. To achieve such high standards for both young people and commissioners, we combine our own innovation and the best practice of others. Our planned move-on records (NI141) demonstrate our success in helping young people begin to build the lives they want for themselves and move in to mainstream, universal services and beyond.
We are enabled and supported – as well as funded - by working closely with local authorities in London who are far sighted and bold when it comes to delivering services to meet young people and the community’s needs. The contribution of young people in our services is also high, from taking part in service-design to playing an active role in recruitment of our staff (every new staff member at CAYSH since 2009 has been interviewed by a panel including a service user) - and our staff are some of the best trained in the sector with 70% being at NVQ level 3 or higher. We recruit people who are not only technically excellent but are representative of the communities we serve which helps meet the needs of the young people in our services.
Neighbours often have genuine concerns regarding Supported Housing schemes near their homes and we have worked with this for years. Our staff team make a point of introducing themselves to neighbours and providing contact details, including out-of-hours and on-call details. Where appropriate we invite neighbours to attend house meetings or to have our Complaints Procedure explained in detail, and we try to work with local community groups to ensure the scheme becomes viewed as a positive feature of the community.
Our Concierge team provide first-contact and safeguarding to young people in our schemes at night including controlling access to buildings, monitoring CCTV systems, ensuring young people are safe and reporting missing young people. Concierge and Supported Housing Officers share the same core induction programme, and are more than security guards. They deal with emergencies of course, but also carry out H&S checks and help with daily chores. Most importantly Concierge focus on known hot spots, schemes with high needs young people and where there are newly settled tenants who may need reassurance. Visits to properties throughout the night reduce the risk of antisocial behaviour by residents, their associates or people who wish to prey on their vulnerability.
All young people are expected to be referred into the supported accommodation services with either a CAF or Pathways Plan in place as appropriate to their referral route. In Croydon all referrals come via the SNAP Team, in Sutton they are from the Gateway team. There is no self-referral and there are no other referral routes in to CAYSH’s Supported Housing.
Working with landlords
We have thirty years experience of working closely with landlords to manage housing issues, resolve disputes and deliver high quality, safe and secure accommodation for vulnerable young people. We conform and report to the requirements of the Supported Housing in Partnership (SHiP) monitoring tool commonly used by Landlords to measure our performance and to benchmark us against other agencies.
Health and Safety of Our Residents
All our houses are managed in accordance with housing regulations and statute. We lease properties from recognised RSLs and where we undertake the Housing Management element of a lease agreement, our 30 years experience comes to the fore. We also recognise that by providing reliable and sound accommodation of a decent quality, we give young people who live there the chance to respect their home.
When CAYSH receives a NEET referral our target is to get them ‘active’ within 6 weeks, encouraging and supporting them to develop key practical and vocational skills along with those required to maintain independence and move on. Our frontline officers are skilled in motivational interviewing and managing a joint agency approach which includes strong links to local education and training centres. Our SUI activities include a fully fledged Shadow Board of Trustees and a range of social and leisure activities and our Traineeship programme has demonstrated great success in developing young people’s workplace skills while providing a Level 2 NVQ qualification.
CAYSH works with young people to improve their emotional well being, life skills and chances by:
- Establishing a culture and desire to change
- Identifying barriers preventing change
- Realising their aspirations through advocacy, honesty and goal setting
- Arranging activities and volunteering opportunities
- Brokering access into mainstream services/resources
- Building on and maintaining patterns of change
CAYSH deliver effective and successful services for young people by first listening to their needs, remaining non-judgemental, and communicating in ‘their’ language. For every young person we then complete a support needs and risk assessment and develop a co-authored Support Plan that they have “bought into”. This plan includes the views of other agencies and significant others involved. Our approach enables young people to shape the support they receive and to balance it with our duty of care. We are open and transparent about this with the young person from the outset and our experience is that being so enables a trusted (and thus effective) relationship to be formed quickly.