A resident in their room

Ending the cycle of homelessness with peer-led support

Six people who have experienced long-term homelessness will have a place to call their own thanks to a new venture between Sovereign Housing Association and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

And now the scheme has been shortlisted for ‘Homelessness partnership of the year’ UK Housing Award thanks to its innovative design.

Following on from government’s £3.2m ‘Everyone in’ campaign, launched during the pandemic, more than 270 local authorities are now working to find permanent homes for people through the ‘Next Steps Accommodation Programme’.

Two former temporary accommodation property owned by Sovereign has been given a £150,000 makeover with skylights fitted to introduce natural light, new kitchens with all white goods, as well as additional bathrooms.

Those moving into the new homes will also have access to psychological and practical support. Sovereign provides housing-related support and charity Outcome Home’s peer mentor team provide practical, emotional and group support from a lived perspective.

This involves those who have experienced homelessness themselves guiding others through the experience of moving into their own place, where trained psychologists regularly check in to make sure that the process is running smoothly and offer regular facilitated reflection to mentors.  

Charlie Wood, a Sovereign resident and member of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP), is on hand to welcome the new residents. He said: “The people we work with respond well to me because we have that shared hardship experience and because we’ve lived it. I’m able to be non-judgemental and accepting, because we’ve all faced similar challenges. It is making a difference and we’ve had some great outcomes.”

Steph Wood, Head of Supported Housing for Sovereign, said: “It is widely recognised that the majority of adults who access homelessness services in the UK will have experienced trauma as children.

“Our new service takes into account the impact of things that might have happened to people before they move in. We’re providing good quality housing, with back up support, as well as access to all of the other services available like employment and training, grant funding and tenancy training to our customers for as long as people need it.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Housing Regeneration, Cllr Tristan Robinson, said: “We are committed to working closely with our partners and the Social Inclusion Partnership to help keep our vulnerable residents off the streets and this would not have been possible without the expertise and passion of everyone involved.

“As part of our work, we are always looking at new and innovative ways to provide new accommodation for local people and tackle complex issues by providing the physiological and emotional support for individuals and giving them the tools and help they need to make long-term changes to lead a more independent life.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in this project, particularly the peer mentors who will be sharing their lived experiences and will be on hand to support residents working to make a change.”

For more information contact supportedhousingadmin@sovereign.org.uk