If our residents need a little extra support, whether that’s to sustain their tenancies or to work towards realising their potential, we’re here to signpost relevant agencies, support work with external partners and make sure that we share helpful information.
We pledged that no one would lose their home due to the coronavirus pandemic and committed to keeping our customers safe, keeping vital services running and helping our communities to cope and recover.
Our expert tenancy support team proactively makes around 800 calls per month to customers, as well as receiving referrals from around the business to support financial wellbeing. In the last year, more than 700 people were supported to open or make changes to Universal Credit accounts, as applications surged during the pandemic. Our Money Matters service also launched in June 2020, providing independent money and debt advice, support for those in fuel poverty, mental health support and budgeting to our customers via specialist agencies.
Our Employment and Training team supports our customers to gain access to guidance, training and sustainable employment opportunities that help them to reach their full potential, with advice and guidance delivered to nearly 2,000 people last year.
In January 2021, we launched our Skills for Work programme in partnership with Southern Housing, using a £100k grant from the European Social Fund. This innovative programme will provide 100 of our unemployed customers on the Isle of Wight with advice, guidance and employment and skills support.
Additionally, Sovereign will host 40 Kickstart placements in 2021, offering disadvantaged young people in our communities an exciting chance to begin a career in housing.
This year we supported the UK government’s ‘Everyone in’ campaign to support rough sleepers in the wake of the pandemic and the Next Step Programme, a scheme to provide more move on accommodation and prevent people returning to the streets.
We also worked with local authorities by extending our contracted temporary self-contained provision and offering direct lets into our homes. We formed new partnerships with local authorities, including West Oxfordshire and support partner Aspire to offer Housing First. Designed to support those experiencing long term homelessness in to their own homes – with wrap-around support we now have 23 Housing First customers, building towards our target of 50 Housing First homes by 2024.
Offering supported housing accommodation for people to live independently is also really important to us and includes provision for those with mental health needs, learning disabilities or care needs. In 2020-21, our supported housing teams made thousands of reassurance calls to residents, providing guidance, support, signposting or just a friendly voice during challenging times.