This month, The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping published its final report, which makes 12 key recommendations. Having taken time to review the report, this is The Foyer Federation’s response.
The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping examined the lessons from the emergency response which supported people sleeping rough during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report aims to understand what worked during the pandemic and what is now needed to embed the good practice that was shown during the past year.
Members of The Foyer Federation provide holistic support for over 2,500 young people each year. They combine accommodation with quality training, community activities and 1-1 support. All young people receive 1-1 coaching and support to achieve their goals, grow their strengths and access new opportunities. This guides their transition through the service to access education, health and wellbeing, training, and employment options, progressing to appropriate move on accommodation after an average stay of around 12 months.
The Foyer Federation welcomes the depth and breadth of the Commission’s work and the attention it paid to the needs and gaps in appropriate provision for different sections of the population, including young people. In particular, we support and champion the following points:
1. Encourage longer term investment: We welcome the call for local authorities to explore longer contracts to give time to build practice and a culture of integrated working. Longer contracts have the benefit of creating more stable organisations that are better able to provide job security for their staff and a consistent service for young people.
2. Invest in staff expertise: The report recognises that “staff in the homelessness sector support very vulnerable people, often with complex needs, and it essential that they have the right competencies to do this job.” The Foyer Federation has long recognised the necessity and the value of investing in staff expertise and has played an active role through providing training and support for Foyer staff. With the sector struggling with staff turnover and wellbeing, it is vital that people receive the support and skills training they need to not just support young people to the best of their ability but also inspire and motivate them.
3. Supported housing needs funding and quality control: Clearly outlined is the fact that good quality supported housing not only secures the best outcomes for individuals, but saves the wider support system (NHS, police etc.) from having to step in longer term. Also noted is the fact that good quality supported housing is in short supply and there are multiple barriers in place that prevent organisations such as Housing Associations from setting up new services. Accredited Foyers represent a minority in the support housing landscape as they are independently, consistently and thoroughly quality assured as part of a network of services that also hold each other accountable regarding quality and impact.
Our FOR Youth Foyers commit to an in-depth exploration of their service and adopt a personalised quality development plan to ensure they continually work to provide the best offer possible for young people. Foyers are a key part of the wider housing system providing an inspirational learning and living environment that enables young people to realise their power and purpose. Properly funded, quality assured supported housing – such as that provided by our network– has never been more important.
4. Young people require specialist support: The causes of homelessness for young people can differ from the wider population, more often involving family breakdown, and the impact on their lives without support is wide ranging and long lasting. Providing services to develop social and life skills; education, employment, and training; and health and wellbeing support can mitigate the long term impact of homelessness. This is a core part of the Foyer offer and, as such, Foyers should be seen as a key solution to enable young people to thrive regardless of their housing situation.