Ending B&B placements for 16/17s
For some years now it has been widely understood that placing vulnerable young people in general B&B accommodation is a bad idea in terms of the risks to young people living away from home and the message it sends them. Finding alternative accommodation however wasn’t quite so straightforward. That was until CAYSH’s STOP model of short term accommodation for 16/17 year olds - developed in conjunction with Sutton Council - was piloted and then launched in Sutton in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The service has attracted admirers elsewhere and following a Supporting People strategic review of the accommodation needs of young people in Croydon, one consequence was the opportunity for CAYSH to reconfigure our range of properties and include 12 units of accommodation in a project based on the STOP model which opened in Croydon in October 2011. The STOP (Short Time Out Project) model is aimed at reconciling family differences so that a young person can return home. Sometimes this is not possible and in these instances CAYSH works with the young person to assess and develop their readiness for independent living and advises on suitable move-on options. STOPs allow this to go on in safe accommodation, solely for 16-17 year olds where there is a 24/7 presence of highly trained support and concierge staff who all working together to reduce the known types of risk facing these young people.
Sustaining peoples tenancies
Whilst we were fortunate to benefit from the BIG Transition Fund, the main impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review in our sector was felt by people in need of support. The effects of rule changes and rate reductions in Housing Benefits affected young people adversely. During 2011-12 CAYSH has launched services funded by Crisis aimed at ensuring 25-34 year olds are supported as they deal with having to find alternative, affordable accommodation. Our CRIAS Sustain services in Croydon and Sutton are for those who having previously received the self-contained accommodation rate of HB are now having to adapt to shared-accommodating rates.
The Big Transition
Following the comprehensive spending review of 2010 the Cabinet Office launched BIG Transition Fund (managed by the BIG Lottery) to support charities who were adversely affected by cuts to public spending and in need of support to adapt and change. CAYSH faced major re-shaping at the point at which we applied, with most of our contracts under notice of termination and the future looking very difficult.
The BIG Transition Fund grant enabled CAYSH to invest significantly in staff development to make us more agile; in systems and training to make us more flexible; and in quality systems and fundraising development to make us more robust. Eighteen months on from applying, we remain incredibly grateful to the Cabinet Office for the BIG Transition Fund Grant and we are certainly better equipped for the future having been awarded it.
Traineeships and volunteering
Our Volunteering and Traineeship programme kicked in to overdrive in 2011-12 with 14 new trainees entering the programme, 9 completing NVQs and 4 having gone on to work for CAYSH. Others have returned to full-time education and Diana (see case study) is one such member of a very successful year’s intake.
Academic education almost always suffers when young people are in housing crisis and whilst nobody can regain missed years of schooling they can certainly catch up - and overtake - their peers. We support a group of service users to do this every year whilst gaining workplace experience with CAYSH.
CRIAS Light is another Crisis funded programme that helps 18-25 year olds avoid falling in to statutory homelessness by providing support that assists them directly in to the Private Rented Sector. The scheme launched in February 2011 promising to help 50 people in Croydon avoid the statutory homeless trap, and over-achieved superbly, helping 67 people find homes where they would otherwise have become homeless. The model has been showcased nationally by Crisis as one of a few innovative ideas that address the challenges faced by young people in need of very little or no support, but unable to remain in the family home for all manner of reasons.
We are delighted to have been able to attract further funding to continue delivering CRIAS Light in Croydon and to launch a parallel service in Sutton. Going forward, we hope that other boroughs in South London will view the value (and value for money) of this scheme favourably as an alternative to waiting for statutory homelessness to occur.
We celebrated our 30th birthday in the last Annual Review, and so just a few words on the very public 30th AGM and celebration we held at Crystal Palace FC’s Selhurst Park with the Mayor of Croydon. The event entertained well over 100 guests including the Mayor & Mayoress of Croydon, Gavin Barwell MP and Jad Adams - one of our founders in 1981. Other guests included Chief Executives past and present and service users old and new. We show-cased our work through our annual award winners including young people in our services, volunteers, Householders in our lodgings programmes, and were all royally entertained by six fantastic up-and coming local music and dance acts. There are too many people to thank them all individually, but to Crystal Palace, Kyra Vidal, LDNC, Naomi Elliot, Panash, R.T.I., Sarah Drizen and our volunteers that made it happen, a very big thank you indeed.
Quality, quality, quality!
2011-12 was a year in which we grew, despite the environment shrinking, and in which we improved the quality of our services, our people and our organisation, whilst all around us people were struggling to keep out of the storm. We commenced preparation for renewing our IIP award, aiming at least to achieve a silver award - two levels up from 2009 and still giving us something to aim for, and we did the ground work for ISO9001 and BS25999 accreditation. IIP is key to us - we’re a people-business after all, and ensuring our staff are working as a team, all aiming for the same targets and functioning at their best is what IIP is all about. BS25999 is about contingency planning and no year since 1981 has taught us more about the need to be ready for the unexpected. The planning for BS25999 is more than just about public disorder of course, it’s about planning for systems’ failure, mass staff sickness, emergency services episodes and other serious disruptions to our services. ISO9001 is on the agenda for the forthcoming year but something had to take a back seat whilst we undertook the consolidation we could whilst growing substantially.
A word on the riots
August 2011 saw unprecedented public disorder in London and elsewhere that horrified us all. Shops were looted and set alight, local landmarks lost forever. People’s homes were damaged beyond use and livelihoods lost. CAYSH’s Cinema Club’s first night was cancelled as a consequence of the riots and despite the valiant efforts of Open Cinema - to whom go our many thanks - it never quite took off after that. We very much hope the Olympics this summer with so many young people from south London volunteering and competing will provide coverage of the opposite end of the spectrum.
To an extent it is pleasing to see that only three young people out of the many hundreds we were working with at the time were known by the Police to have been connected with the rioting. It’s also worth reflecting on an anecdote from Sandra one of our Lodgings Householders who discouraged two young people who lodge with her from watching the mayhem on the street. She “requested” they keep her company and keep her safe, and using added incentives such as popcorn they watched the appalling scenes unfold together in front of her TV. Well done to Sandra and all of those parents and carers who helped their young people to do the right and safe thing that night and any other. Only a tiny percentage of young people get involved in criminal behaviour, but I think it’s true to say that the riots last year did little to promote this fact and it has left all of us with a lot of work to do to turn around the negative images etched in people’s memories.
DOWNLOAD > CAYSH Annual Review 2012 as a PDF