A pioneering project that aims to prevent thousands of young people from becoming homeless in Greater Manchester has been extended for a further three years.
£4.85million has been allocated to the Young Person’s Homelessness Prevention programme by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to work with 1500 eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds across ten local authority areas.
The scheme, which is run by the Greater Manchester Better Outcomes Partnership (GMBOP) and delivered by a network of local experts including youth homelessness charity Depaul, has already supported more than 270 individuals in danger of becoming homeless.
It works with young people to stabilise their home situation, find alternative accommodation, and provide additional support around mental health, helping build support networks so individuals can engage in meaningful activity and move towards employment and training.
The funding will only be paid out when the scheme succeeds in preventing homelessness and delivering positive outcomes. That’s because it is being run as a Social Outcomes Partnership, where the upfront working capital is provided by social investors and council funding is only released when outcomes are delivered
This model is gradually transforming some complex public services. 90 such contracts have now been agreed in the UK, successfully delivering over £500m of social outcomes – from housing the street homeless to preventing long-term illness and family breakdown.
“This project is all about trying to assist young people before their situation becomes worse and they find themselves on the street or without accommodation,” explains Rachel O’Connor, Programme Manager for Bridges Outcomes Partnerships, which is a key partner to GMBOP.
“The pilot gave us a great opportunity to get to the bottom of what ‘at risk of homelessness’ individuals need – and of the 270 people we worked with, over 75% had successful outcomes. Following this success, GMCA has commissioned an outcomes-based project that will cover all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.”
Rachel adds: “At its heart, this project is about building a detailed understanding of the circumstances of the young person accessing the service, the systemic barriers they face and what type of intervention they need to keep them safe and engage in meaningful activities that improve their overall wellbeing.
“We’ve taken all the crucial insights, lessons learned and ‘outcomes’ to shape the extended project and we are hoping to make a positive difference to 1500 young people.
The Young Person’s Homelessness Prevention programme will work with local specialists and a team of Progression Coaches, who will be the first and most regular point of contact for the individual.
They will work to understand what the current situation is and whether there is an imminent or future risk of homelessness, then come up with an approach that will either stabilise accommodation at the existing property or find a new home.
From there the young person will regularly meet their Progression Coach – at a venue that the client feels comfortable in – where they will use the Youth Homelessness Outcome Tracker, a framework designed by young people that opens up discussions around identifying the additional support that will help them overcome the barriers they face.
This could be help with debt management, it could be confidence issues, it could be getting support for their mental health, or it could be signposting them to meaningful activities that give the young person a greater sense of wellbeing. On numerous occasions, the flexible assistance has led to training and even employment opportunities.
Aman Johal, Investment Director at Big Society Capital, adds her support: “The Social Outcomes Partnership model is really gathering pace and, at a time when more help is needed against a backdrop of tighter budgets, can provide a solution that makes perfect sense.
“The Young Person’s Homeless Prevention Programme is a perfect example of the deep impact you can have on people’s lives when care is personalised. We’ve shown in the pilot that this approach delivers better outcomes for young people.
“And we’ve developed a model where the funding is closely aligned with the success of the programme: the up-front capital required for delivery is provided by social investors, with GMCA only paying out if these outcomes are achieved. So, it’s a real win-win for councils and regions looking to deliver essential services on a restricted budget.”
Rachel concludes: “Our average intervention time is nine months, and we can achieve so much in that time. We’ve seen the difference it makes in our pilot and now we are going to be able to help a further 1500 young people across the ten main areas in Greater Manchester.”
Liam Cary is in the process of turning his life around after he was referred to the Young Person’s Homelessness Prevention programme.
The 26-year-old from Manchester had been sofa surfing since he was 16 after his mother sadly passed away, leaving him in the care of his father, a regular heroin user.
That relationship quickly broke down and the next decade has been spent without stable accommodation and trying to juggle everyday life with significant mental health challenges, so much so that he has been on the verge of suicide on more than one occasion.
“The Young Person’s Homelessness Prevention programme has saved my life, it’s as simple as that,” explained Liam, who is now looking to train as a joiner.
“Before I was referred, I’d pretty much given up hope of a better future as everything looked so bleak. I was having issues with my current landlord, my mental health was in a really bad place and I had no way of holding down employment.”
He continued: “This all changed when I was introduced to Allan and Michelle, my two Progression Coaches. They showed me very early on that someone cared for me and believed in me and the support they’ve offered and continue to offer has been so important in helping give me a new perspective.
“Very early in our relationship I contemplated suicide – I was that low. I rang to tell them I was in A&E and within an hour Alan was sat next to me telling me we were going to get through this.”
Liam, who has served in the British Army, is being supported to look at private accommodation through funding available for former veterans.
This will give him the stability he needs to continue his Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help him successfully manage his mental health, whilst additional employment and training support has seen him secure his Forklift truck licence.
The focus has also been on improving his wellbeing, with gym membership offered and a new bike sourced so he can keep fit.
“I’ve got 23 qualifications, I just needed to get my head in the right place and to sort my accommodation out,” added Liam.
“My big aim in 2022 is to qualify as a joiner, secure full-time employment and to have my own place that has a front door. This might not seem a lot for some people, but it would mean a whole new life to me.”
He concluded: “I can’t thank The Young Person’s Homelessness Prevention programme and Allan/Michelle enough. They are life-savers and deserve the highest recognition…thank you!”