Since 2006, NACCOM members have been instrumental in developing a broad range of innovative housing solutions that have radically changed the mood, wellbeing and overall sense of place felt by those left in limbo by our unfair asylum system. Some of these solutions (which someone recently described as a ‘beautiful thing’ in an email to our team), are going to be explored in a workshop at our annual conference. I hope this blog gives a flavour of the innovative work that we’ll look at in more detail later this month.
Since I started in my new role as NACCOM’s second Network Development Worker, I have already had the opportunity to visit a broad range of accommodation projects around the country. Those that do housing include Abigail Housing in Leeds/Bradford, Giroscope and Open Doors in Hull, St Monica’s in Leeds and Open Door North East on Teesside.
In Leeds, Abigail Housing works closely with private sector landlords in their provision of supported and general shared accommodation for refugees, while in Bradford they use loaned houses, including church property, to house people who have been refused asylum. One of our newest members, Giroscope, who have been buying and renovating houses in an area of Hull for over 30 years, provide not just accommodation but training and employability. Giroscope house a broad range of clients including refugees but more recently are looking to provide another NACCOM member Open Doors Hull with two properties to help with their work with migrants with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).
Elsewhere, my old employer Open Door North East has – amongst other things- negotiated a free house from a Housing Association, and has developed as a social lettings agency to help investors find and renovate property, which it then manages for a fee to help with the cross subsidy of beds for those with NRPF.
We know from successive NACCOM annual surveys that the provision of accommodation and in particular housing (that private place, a room, a bolt hole, a place to rest your head and call home even if only as a temporary measure) provides a secure base enabling other practical help and assistance and in particular advice and casework support, to be more effective in supporting pathways out of destitution.
A central part of NACCOM’s mission remains therefore the provision of practical support to members in the establishment of accommodation projects that reduce destitution. While hosting and night shelters have been a key area of growth in recent years, the provision of housing still remains a vital part of our NACCOM members’ ‘toolkit’.
This year’s annual conference is titled ‘Pathways out of destitution’ and I will be running a housing workshop that will explore the “What”, ”How”, “Where” and “Why” questions of a variety of different NACCOM projects from around the country. The intention is for the workshop to be both informative and interactive and designed to help you be inspired to explore new things or develop what you are already doing in a more sustainable way.
I look forward to seeing new and old faces at this conference on the 25th September as we work together to tackle issues and change lives.