A survey run by Homeless Link in partnership with Housing Justice has highlighted the vital role that small, community and faith-based organisations play in supporting individuals facing homelessness, often filling in the gaps where other services are unable to help.

The report, ‘A critical safety net’, is based on data drawn from a survey of small, community and faith-based organisations in June 2019. The survey set out to get better information on smaller groups in the homelessness sector, to understand how they to find how involved they are in local partnerships, and their views on the Government's sleeping strategy and initiatives.

The majority of respondents said that their strength in helping people who are experiencing homelessness was in 'giving support and advice', such as employment support, education, befriending and mentoring, relational or emotional care, benefits advice. The second most frequently identified strength was supporting people into housing or hostels, followed by providing for immediate basic needs such as food, clothes or blankets.

One respondent wrote

People long for a sense of belonging, a place they can relate to and feel safe. At our venues we offer them a safe place to rest and the emotional, social and financial support for their needs, including helping them get into accommodation and sort their problems with ID, banks, etc.

During the day we liaise with them, meet them and make appointments on their behalf, give advice and signpost them to the relevant services that can help, such as dealing with their substance use and dependency, life skills to manage their income, getting into employment or taking care of their health.

Main challenges identified were the increasing complexity of need of individuals that services are working with and lack of support services available to address these needs, Lack of sustainable long-term funding, cuts to funding, and the lack of availability of affordable accommodation for people to move on to.

Similarly, when asked to comment on what they thought the Government could do to improve the situation for individuals who are rough sleeping or homeless, the most common reply was a request for longer-term sustainable funding, alongside an increase in the supply of affordable housing and improvements to the welfare system making them easier to access.

Read the full report