Housing

A focus group: Life and debt in temporary accommodation

A focus group: Life and debt in temporary accommodation

We hear from people we’ve supported on their experiences of temporary accommodation and what councils and support services can do better.

There are currently over 250,000 people living in temporary accommodation across the UK, a figure which jumped by 6000 in the first three months of the Covid crisis. With a chronic lack of social housing and unaffordable rental prices in the private market, too many people are trapped in temporary accommodation without the means to move on. 

But what is the real experience of living in temporary accommodation? Last month, we were approached by Oak Foundation and Trust for London to take part in research about the lives of people living in temporary accommodation and the kinds of support and advocacy available to them.  

We hosted a focus group with 6 people we’ve supported over the last year in our housing projects, to hear about the challenges they have faced and their view on what could help them and others who are living in temporary accommodation. 

And before the conversation could start, one of the common problems that we’ve supported families with cropped up: could everyone get online for the Zoom call? For Gary, the only way was to go over to a friends house and get Wifi access from there because he’d been unable to top up electricity that week. But it was important to him to join us and share his experience: “I was homeless, the Refugee Council connected me with Council support, they gave me a hotel room but I never saw the case worker, it was all over the phone. I saw a place that was all one room, I signed the contract.” 

In Gary’s case, an error meant the benefit cap wasn’t taken into consideration when he signed the agreement. Unable to work and with little to live on after the rent is paid, day to day life is a struggle. “Now I’m living on £200 for a month. I didn’t know how I’m going to live, I can’t top up electric, it is very complicated for me and very traumatizing.” 

When you’re suffering from mental health, its difficult – its like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together in the dark.

Our other participants could relate to the stress caused by the mismatch in benefits and high rent prices, even in TA. When Ajay got his temporary accommodation, he set up a  direct debit to cover the utilities and believed his housing benefit would cover the rent. He explains, “I’m going about doing as I should, then 10 months after I was told I was going to be evicted because I hadn’t paid the rent and I’d got into all this debt. I didn’t even know. If it wasn’t for Kineara I don’t know what would happen.” 

For Rick, it took two years to get his housing benefit and was moved twice in that time. The housing he was moved to didn’t feel safe, and he wasn’t sleeping due to  the stress. It was also hard to get the right information at the right time from council services, saying “They often they tell you ‘I’ll get back to you, I have to check.’ Once I travelled in to the office only to be told to write in.”

Angel, who works part time and whose son is a full time student, had similar frustrations: “They told me ‘Don’t worry, housing benefit will cover it, just make an application’. The arrears kept going up and up. Its frustrating. They need to communicate better – its currently very poor.” Another added, “It seems that different Council offices have different systems to manage who is coming in, one team doesn’t speak to the other.” 

So what did the group think could be improved to better support people through and out of temporary accommodation? Many of them described feeling like they weren’t cared about, even feeling like a burden on society. “Then you fall through the cracks and enter world of desperation due to mental relapses, and then you become more of a burden.” 

They also wanted to see council services be considerate to the multiple barriers and hardships that they experience, because when they don’t, it feels like they’re being set up to fail. “And you need that when you’re suffering from mental health, because its difficult – its like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together in the dark.” 

For others, the most important thing was also the most simple – to have someone by their side, listening to what they were going through and advocating for them through crisis. “Big thanks for Carly, because I [felt] abandoned but Carly started fighting for my case. She’s been helping me get set up, like with Council Tax which I didn’t know about.”  

As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that the opportunity to meet and share stories had been important to everyone. “So much of  my experience has been reflected today… its been useful because you feel alone.”

This focus group was hosted on behalf of Oak Foundation and Trust for London’s ongoing research project exploring advocacy and support in temporary accommodation. To find out more about the project, contact leila@leilabaker.net and ugo@trustforlondon.org.uk.

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes

Posted by kineara in Community, Employment, Health and Wellbeing, Housing, Research
New Covid eviction prevention project for Southwark residents gets underway

New Covid eviction prevention project for Southwark residents gets underway

PRESS RELEASE
November 2020

Our new programme will provide essential intensive support to renters in the private sector who are threatened with eviction

We’re excited to announce a new Covid Private Renters Project for tenants in Southwark, delivering our intensive 10-week intervention with residents with complex needs to address arrears, financial hardship, health and wellbeing concerns that have led to an insecure tenancy.

We’ve developed a unique intervention for tenants and landlords that combines intensive practical and wellbeing support, legal advice, and mediation. It is designed to meet a pressing current need in which legal uncertainties around eviction, increasing arrears and financial hardship, and insecure employment could potentially lead to a rise in homelessness across the UK. The project aims to prevent that by strengthening landlord-tenant communication and supporting mediation, as well as specialist legal support provided our partners, Southwark Law Centre.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with Southwark Council and Southwark Law Centre with funding from Guys’ and St Thomas’ Charity. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, housing is a key driver of health, and secure, safe housing is foundational to our health outcomes. We’re excited to be collaborating with these partners to support the health and wellbeing of residents in the Southwark by addressing housing as a social determinant of health.

Councillor Helen Dennis, cabinet member for social support and homelessness, said: “Tackling homelessness has always been best approached as prevention rather than cure. So we’re delighted to be able to support those in the private sector who are vulnerable to becoming homeless due to eviction. Alongside Kineara and Southwark Law Centre, we hope to use a collaborative approach to help people remain in a safe and secure home with their families, especially during such difficult and economically uncertain times.”

The project comes at a critical time for renters in the private sector, as the Government’s eviction moratorium came to an end on 20th September. Shelter estimates that over 300,000 renters have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, with perhaps many more in danger of being made homeless once the furlough scheme ends and unemployment rises.

Kieron Boyle, CEO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity says: “We know that the economic impact of the pandemic disproportionately affects those who already shoulder the greatest burden of ill health. We’re delighted to be working with Kineara, Southwark Council and the Southwark Law Centre to protect the health of those at risk of eviction. Through a package of practical support we can help prevent insecure housing driving health inequalities. This will have impact locally as well as important lessons for national policy.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

About Kineara

Kineara is an award winning community interest company that offers holistic support services to families, individuals and young people going through challenges in housing, education and employment.

About Southwark Law Centre

Southwark Law Centre is a charity whose mission is the relief of poverty, suffering and distress through the provision of free, specialist and confidential legal advice.

About Guys’ St Thomas’ Charity

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is an independent urban health foundation. They work with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and others to improve health in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, and beyond.

For media enquiries contact Melanie Sirinathsingh on 07800545607 and msirinathsingh@kineara.co.uk, or visit our website www.kineara.co.uk

Posted by kineara in Community, Housing, Latest
COVID 19, housing and health

COVID 19, housing and health

At Kinearait is important to us to identify and support with housing concerns for any of the families or individuals we work with. As well as developing housing interventions that aim to prevent eviction, address financial hardship caused by housing costs, or settle into long term, stable accommodation, specialist support for housing is also offered to any household that may need it, even if they have come to us on an education or employment programme.  

The reason for this is we know that for a person’s wellbeing to improve in a sustainable way, their home must provide a solid foundation for them. And when a family is housing insecure, the support we provide is likely to have far less impact unless we work with them to address those housing challenges. 

And last 6 months have thrown the relationship between good quality, safe, stable housing and health into sharp relief.  

“For a person’s wellbeing to improve in a sustainable way, their home must provide a solid foundation for them.”

Covid-housing-healthWhile the reality about the impacts Covid-19 impact is still emerging, early reports have already demonstrated clear links between poor housing and Covid-19 deathsThe death rate for Covid-19 is England’s poorest boroughs, including Tower Hamlets where we deliver M2E in schools, is twice the rate than in the richest areas according to the latest information. And it is in those poorest areas that we tend to also find a higher rate of overcrowding, higher prevalence of HMOs’ and higher shortages of social housing, which have also shown to be correlated with Covid-19 deathsIn addition, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African households are more likely to be living in overcrowded homes, which may explain in part why these groups are overrepresented in Covid 19 deaths.  

Moreover, there arbroader health impacts of poor and insecure housing being experienced in these communities that have long been present and have been made worse by closures, stay-at-home measures and financial hardship brought on by the crisis. 

How lockdown impacted temporary accommodation residents in Bexley 

In July, we surveyed 11 participants of Opening Doorsour project that supports temporary accommodation tenants with complex needs into long term secure housing, to find out about how the lockdowns had impacted their lives, health and wellbeing. 

Isolation and lack of social contact emerged as one of the most difficult things those surveyed faced during the lockdowns, with nearly two thirds saying their contact with friends, family and community networks decreased. Nearly half of those surveyed also reported that feelings of anxiety and depression increased, and that their mental health in general had been impacted by the pandemic. Those same respondents also reported difficulty accessing their statutory or community-based support services. In addition, 4 respondents had difficulty accessing medication and 1 reported having suicidal thoughts.  

“Isolation and lack of social contact emerged as one of the most difficult things those surveyed faced during the lockdowns.”

Just under half (41%) of those surveyed reported that their finances had worsened because of the crisis, with a third saying they were behind on rent since lockdown began and a quarter behind on other bills too5 respondents also had trouble accessing food, either because local shops had closed, money was tight, or because friends or family who usually support them with these errands were unable to do so.  

What had been most helpful for those surveyed was the weekly calls and check in’s by their support practitioner, SandraHaving a listening ear and compassionate connection has been vital for those who have been isolated, helping to reduce anxiety. For some, the closures have meant that their move out of TA has been delayed, but all of those surveyed said they were happy with Kineara’s communication about the programme and said that Kineara’s presence had been useful during this time. In the meantime Sandra’s support getting in touch with local services when needed, finding information online, support paying bills and rent was also important to those surveyed.  

How does housing impact health? 

It seems obvious, but housing stress can have a major impact on our physical and mental healthIn our work, we see how drug and alcohol recovery, anxiety and depression, and long term chronic conditions can all be worsened by unsuitable or insecure housing. 

We recently met Beverly*, a young woman living in temporary accommodation and just about to start her A-Levels. She told us she has moved every one or two months in the last year – even during lockdown – struggling to feel safe in shared accommodation after an earlier experience of sexual abuse. She mentioned that she had an anxiety disorder and had support from mental health services, but that finding housing that meant she could feel safe and focus on her studies was the most important thing for her.  

 “In our work, we see how drug and alcohol recovery, anxiety and depression, and long term chronic conditions can all be worsened by unsuitable or insecure housing”

As Beverly was referred to us via the Opening Doors programme, we told her that finding housing was also our priority, but that delays caused by Covid meant it would be around 6 months before a move to her own flat could happen. This was devastating for her – moving out of her current room was urgent and the news was extremely disappointing. The following week, her practitioner Sandra received a call from NHS crisis support: Beverly had called in extreme distressthe news that she wouldn’t be able to move before starting college was too much, and was, for her the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sandra and her crisis support worker are now working together to support her in the interim.  

Trevor*, also referred to our Opening Doors programme earlier in the year, was struggling to maintain his recovery from alcohol while living in temporary accommodation in an HMO. He had been diagnosed with depression and has epilepsyand at times has seizures brought on by stress and anxiety. He was eligible for social housing but had been on the list for some time. His shared accommodation meant that his pursuit of recovery and improved health was in jeopardy, as other residents were drinking and several times police were called to the property. For peace, mental focus, and to keep away from alcohol, Trevor found it easier to stay in his own room – but during lockdown the pressures of this isolation took a toll on his mental health.  

“Having a listening ear and compassionate connection has been vital for those who have been isolated, helping to reduce anxiety.”

Through listening ear work, welfare calls, and lots of encouragement, Sandra supported Trevor to keep bidding for flats, to keep paying off rent arrears that had built up, and prepare for a positive change to come. Having someone to share the burdens of his isolation was crucial and his determination paid off. Last week, he called to tell us he signed a tenancy for his own flat having been finally offered a social housing tenancy.  

 

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes. 

Posted by kineara in Community, Housing
Supporting the recovery of our communities

Supporting the recovery of our communities

As the impacts of Covid-19 and the lockdowns on our communities are becoming clearer, the inequality in society has been laid bare.

For us and many other organisations working with ‘vulnerable’ people, the reality of life at the sharp end of that inequality has always been acutely challenging, particularly when barriers to secure housing, stable employment, positive mental and physical health, and meaningful connections to community combine.

As a result, many of the impacts we are seeing are not new to us, they are only exacerbated by the unequal effect of both the Covid-19 illness and the lockdowns that have been put in place to contain it.

Supporting your needs

Kineara has broad experience working with people with complex needs to address concerns over housing, mental health, family support, and employment. This support is both practical and emotional, and our practitioners use holistic approaches that can include anything from writing housing applications to counselling sessions.

We also provide consultation and supervision to housing associations and schools, so we can support your own frontline staff to identify and support those people that need more complex care.

We know that many organisations will be at low capacity right now, just when the demand for support is greatest. Whether you are a housing association, school or local authority, you will likely have seen the gaps in provision and the challenges that people in your communities face, as the lack of funding, availability of staff, and the severity of the impacts of Covid-19 on the vulnerable becomes clear.

We can support you to prevent people falling through those gaps.

But we want to hear from you – if you are a school, housing association or local authority, get in touch! There are many ways that we may be able to provide you the support your community needs as we begin to address the effects of the pandemic, including over-the-phone supervision and consultation, trainings, support interventions for vulnerable residents or communities, and more.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing, Latest
Relief and support during Covid-19: A list of links and resources

Relief and support during Covid-19: A list of links and resources

We’ve put together a list of webpages and resources where people can find up-to-date information and support while the UK is tackling the Coronavirus crisis. In particular, these links are for those people who may be living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, housing insecurity, or mental health concerns. Follow the links below to find information on managing bills, dealing with landlords, and more.

We have also included resources for groups who may be at a higher risk of either illness or who are likely to become vulnerable during the lockdown period, which you can find below.

Last updated 31.01.21

Links to Government Covid-19 relief measures

The Government has issued a list of what it considered key workers at this time and therefore who has school eligibility at this time: Guidance for schools and education providers.

The Government’s full guidance for tenants, landlords, housing providers and local authorities can be found here. The current measures mean no-one (including private renters, social renters, property guardians, and people in TA) will face eviction for three months, and LHA rates have been increased to cover 30% of rent.

Turn2Us has a regularly updated webpage with guidance on all the new and existing benefits. This page also includes a benefits calculator and a list of grants available for people in financial hardship.

StepChange, the debt charity, also has advice about how to manage bills and debts during this time, with advice about what creditors and utility companies may do to help individuals unable to pay.

The government has promised that utility companies will not be allowed to disconnect credit meters at this time, and customers in financial distress will be supported by their energy company to look at options for reducing payments or debts.  This link also includes advice for people with pre-pay meters, and a list of utility company helplines.

Several mobile and internet providers including Vodaphone, EE and O2 have agreed to protect vulnerable customers by removing broadband data caps, providing support to those who cannot meet their bills, and offer affordable packages.

And here is information about how parents and carers can access supermarket vouchers for children eligible for free school meals.

Guidance and support for specific groups

Renters

Measures toprotect private renterswere revised over the last week and may still change again, but for nowGeneration Renthas gathered the latest Government support packages that are available, and how to access them. 

Shelter has regularly updated guidance for bothrenters and home owners about their rights and benefitsduring this time. 

But there are calls for more to be done, andLondon Renters Union are calling for rent suspensions, in line with the mortgage holidays offered to homeowners. They also have drafted atemplate letterrenters can use to negotiate rent holidays or decreases with their landlord. 

Advice4Renters provides free or low-cost legal advice and representation from expert housing specialists.   

Shelter’s free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444 is open 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-5pm on weekends, 365 days a year. 

BME groups

The Race Equality Foundation has guidance on how Covid-19 may impactblack and minority ethnic people. While BME groups generally have a younger average age, risk factors like heart disease and diabetes are higher in African/Caribbean and South Asian groups. BME people are also more likely to be in key worker occupations and more likely to live in overcrowded conditions than white British people, and therefore potentially at higher risk of exposure to infection. 

The Ubele Initiative have adedicated Covid-19 support and resource page for BAME communities.You can also read Kineara’s case study with Ubele Initiative.

The GMCVO has put together this useful webpage of information, sources of support and resources for BAME communities 

The Indigo Trust has listed a number of organisations that it has funded to continue providing essential support to BME groups during Covid-19. You can read more about them and access further links here.  

Doctors of The World have publishedCovid-19 guidance for patients in a number of languages. The guidance is based on the government’s advice and health information and was produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice. 

Askdoc have producedshort videos translating NHS England Covid-19 advicein variouslanguages. 

South Asian Health Foundation have a range ofresources and links about Coronavirus in South Asian languages. 

Europia is also working with Doctors of the World, providing them withtranslations of COVID-19 NHS Guidanceinto Bulgarian, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian and Lithuanian. 

Public Health England haveinformation for migrants translated into different languagesavailable to download. 

The BAME Stream is offering FREE culturally appropriate bereavement support and is now taking referrals. 

Victims of domestic abuse

Solace Women’s Aid, the Public interest Law Centre, and other specialist VAWG groups are concerned we will see a surge in violence in the home, as victims of abuse are unable to leave the home. They are calling forurgent action for domestic violence survivors during the lockdown, with a letter to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. They are also calling forrefuges to receive ring fenced Coronavirus funding. 

Solace Women’s Aid also offers a hub of resources for DV victims and survivors including free Covid-19 webinars and lists of safety measures if you are in an abusive relationship during Covid-19.  

The government has launched the Ask for Ani (Action Needed Immediately) codeword scheme to enable victims of domestic abuse to access immediate help from the police or other support services, from the safety of their local shop, or pharmacy. 

Safe Lives has a useful webpage for victims of domestic abuse. This includes a guide for staying safe during COVID-19, specialist joint-guidance for DV survivors  

Surviving Economic Abuse offers helpful resources for survivors whilst self-isolating, as well as practical issues including benefits. There is also useful information for professionals working with victims and survivors of economic abuse.

The Women and Girls Network offers a range of online resources covering mental health and wellbeing, educational tools and translations.  

Refuge and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) has information about your rights and options, including legal help and help with housing.  

Women’s Aid is continuing to provide the Survivors’ Forum, an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse which can be accessed 24/7; live chat and email service. 

Asylum seekers and refugees

The Home Office has pledged tostop evicting asylum seekers from government accommodationfor a period of three months once their claim or appeal is decided. A decision will be made on Friday 3rdApril aboutwhether to suspend No Recourse to Public Funds policy. 

Here is useful advice forsupporting migrants and asylum seekersduring the crisis, with additional helplines. And here is apetition calling for people being held in immigration detention to be releasedso they can have proper access to healthcare. 

The Red Crosshas put together a webpage with various support for refugees, asylum seekers or vulnerable migrants.

Women for Refugee Women are supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women during the pandemic, from women who been made homeless during the pandemic to women who do not have the money to feed their children. You can find out more and donate to their appeal here.   

The Refugee Council, who has beencalling on the governmentto protect people seeking asylum and refugees at risk, has a regularly updated webpage on Changes to Asylum & Resettlement policy and practice in response to Covid-19’  

Joint letter on protecting migrants from COVID-19: Asylum Matters, Liberty, Medact and others have signed a joint letter to the Home Secretary calling for specific measures to protect migrants and the general population from COVID-19. This includes calls for the suspension of all NHS charging and data-sharing for the purposes of immigration enforcement and the suspension of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions to ensure everyone can access support. You canread the letter and add your name here.

Right to Remain has a regularly updated webpage on the Changes to the asylum and immigration processesdue to Covid-19. You can find other resourcesformigrants and their advocates on the Migrant Information Hub 

Training 19/01/2021 (multiple dates): Trauma informed training on Housing Rights for Refugee and Migrant Women delivered by Baobab Women’s Project. The sessions will cover trauma-informed care, developing effective support services, migration and human rights, and housing.  

Training 27/01/2021, 18:00 – 20:00 GMT: Refugee Mental Health Training exploring psychosocial challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers, experiences of depression and intergenerational trauma. The session is psychiatry trainee and diasporic medical student who will be drawing on their own personal experiences.  

Children in temporary accommodation

The Lancet has written a short comment about how children in temporary accommodation are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 and potential direct and indirect health impacts of isolating in overcrowded, shared or confined spaces.

Disabled people

Scope has lots ofinformation for disabled peopleabout support that is available at this time. And here is guidance fortackling isolation during a time of ‘physical distancing’ to keep us socially connected, from AbilityNet, a charity that aims to ensure IT is available to everyone regardless of ability, including older and disabled people. 

Concerns have been raised by disabled rights organisations thatemergency changes to the Care Act means that local authorities could suspend their dutiesand refuse people assessments and care. 

Groups with accessibility needs 

Translated audio guidanceon COVID-19has beenupdatedby Doctors of the World. 

People with mental illness

Rethink Mental Illness has put together questions and answers forpeople living with mental illness and those who care for them, including prescriptions and carer visits. The government also madeemergency changes to the Mental Health Act last week, causing some concern that increased government powers will make it easier for people to be detained. 

Rethink Mental Ilness has also produced this guidance on the Covid-19 vaccine for people living with mental health. Under current proposals, people diagnosed and livinlg with severe mental illness are classed as a priority group to receive the vaccine. 

Mind has put together a webpage of information and tips to help you cope while the UK is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. You can also call the infoline on 0300 123 3393 to takeabout mental health and where to get help near you.  

Local Covid-19 mutual aid groups

Bexley

Bexley Borough Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group (Facebook group)

Covid 19 – Mutual Aid Bexley Support & Inspiration (Facebook group)

Isolation Help Bexley

Hackney

Hackney Covid 19 Mutual Aid (Facebook group)

The Boiler House N16

Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Covid 19 Community Support (Facebook group)

Stepney Green mutual aid group (WhatsApp group)

Limehouse Aid (WhatsApp group)

Search for a mutual aid group in your area or for a friend in need: Covid Mutual Aid UK

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Employment, Housing, Latest
Kineara’s response to coronavirus closures

Kineara’s response to coronavirus closures

23 March 2020

 

Last week the UK Government made the decision to shut down schools as the country continues to address the coronavirus spread throughout the UK. This was in addition to several other Government measures to increase social distancing and offer some relief to people effected by the virus.

 

At this time, our priority concern is for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the people we work with, many of whom are being particularly impacted by the virus and its broader consequences. For families who are already in precarious housing, on low incomes, living in overcrowded homes or with children with complex needs, the coming months will be particularly challenging.

 

We are thankful that at this time we are able to temporarily sustain our services, despite having to reduce the level of support we can offer. Whilst the schools are closed, and social distancing is being advised, we won’t be able to run sessions or make visits to our clients in the way we usually would.

 

But, we are doing what we can to overcome the disruption and continue to provide the best support we can over the phone, via calls and video chat. We have been speaking with our school and housing partners to make arrangements about how we can provide school-home services and housing support going forward. We also are connecting with local voluntary services so that we can make sure people have access to essential support through this time. We hope that, with enough planning, we can continue to support you in meaningful ways, including support for the impact of the coronavirus. We’ll continue to review our work as we go forward.

 

We are also preparing a list useful links of local services, mutual aid groups, and community support for our website in coming days, so that anyone who we have worked with now or in the past can find out what is on offer in their area.

 

The families and households we are currently working with will be, if they have not been already, contacted by their practitioner in the coming days to make ongoing arrangements.

 

We know that for many people this will be a stressful and worrying moment. At Kineara, we are always focused on how best to support people through challenging times – and for the next few weeks, we know many people in London and the UK will face many challenges. We will do the best we can to help you through it.

 

 

The Kineara Team

 

 

 

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Employment, Housing, Latest
GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

In the busy, complex and varied world of family support, our practitioners have to be prepared for anything. Here is our ultimate guide for surviving a day in the life of a Kineara practitioner.

 

Properly functioning GPS, and plenty of data

Ever had that sinking feeling when you’re on your way to an appointment and your map app has taken you in the wrong direction? Sandra was recently driving to a meeting and found herself green fields around farm yard animals, until she realized her data had failed her miles before and her GPS had gone haywire.

Snack bars

I was lucky enough to overhear an important conversation in our office yesterday about which snack bar really is the best go-to when you’re feeling hungry, you’re on the move, and in-between appointments. There was no consensus on brand, but a definite agreement that snack bar in your pocket is an indispensable part of a practitioner toolkit.

 

Charger bank

Equally important is a charger bank to make sure you never suddenly run out of battery while on the move. Being constantly on the go from appointment to appointment, how did support workers even manage before the mobile phone came along?

 

Umbrella and comfortable shoes

Of course, this is a given. Anyone who has trudged the streets of London in the winter knows an umbrella is a must, and comfortable shoes will always be top choice over our new stylish favourites – running to catch that bus or standing in line at the housing office with our clients calls for comfort all the way.

 

Coffee shop loyalty card

For Liz, that on-the-go coffee from her favourite place keeps her going through the day, and why not make sure you get that 10th coffee for free?

 

Your favourite podcast or playlist

And finally…to help you wind down after a heavy day, our practitioners recommend keeping your favourite podcast ready or a playlist with your best loved songs to accompany you home. Self-care is just as important as the care we offer our families, and this is a tip to help you switch off from the pressures of the day and enjoy your evening…before the new day rolls around.

Are you a support worker or practitioner that can relate to our guide? What tips would you share for getting through a busy day? Let us know!

 

Our team is growing! We currently have an open vacancy for a housing support practitioner. If you would like to join our team to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, get in touch with us.

Find out more about our impact.

Read more about the work of our practitioners, including how to support pupils through the stress of exams.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing
Podcast: Kineara director Maria Morgan speaks about her work and vision for the future

Podcast: Kineara director Maria Morgan speaks about her work and vision for the future

Our director Maria Morgan sat down with the team at It Means Something Podcast to speak about a wide range of topics from her work as Director of Kineara, the importance of investing in people, to her vision for the world. 

The podcast brought by Nathan Ardaiz and Joao Fernandes invites “those who are creating meaning in the world such as makers, entrepreneurs and artists” to delve deeper into their journey and the meaning they’re making in their lives. Here, we summarise some of the topics covered in the podcast.  

Creating meaningful change 

Founded in 2012, Kineara set out to create and deliver tailor-made support services that inspire meaningful and lasting change in the lives of the people and communities we serve. Starting with our Rent Support Programme (RSP), which addresses and prevented evictions of vulnerable families in social housing, our offer has expanded to include mid-length tenancy sustainment programmes and educational wellbeing and support services 

Fast forward to 2020, we now several new projects and services in the works including our most recently designed intervention, Resettling, which supports people who have been homeless or in temporary accommodation move back into sustainable housing, and more important and exciting plans for the future.  

Asked how Kineara creates meaningful change, Maria says: “In terms of Kineara, we realise that we’re not going to do it on our own. We can’t do everything, but the best thing we can do is go into a situation, if the individual or family allows, and work with them to understand their barriers, their frustrations, their story. 

“It’s a privilege for someone to let you in their life no matter where they are in life. So, I always say don’t take it for granted that someone’s been referred to us that it’s just a given.” 

As we’re coming out, we start to work on: What support do you need that when we’ve left, we know you can go there? So, it’s important that we have that kind of step-down service after that real intense work. What we’re finding is there are not as many step-down services as we would like because of cuts and other reasons, so when we do find those services our job is develop those relationships between the person we’re working and those organisations.” 

Further to this, Maria explains the meaning of holistic support and how it relates to our work. “We are all part of a system; the family is a system. We all have different roles and different things we bring to the table, so if somebody or something in that system isn’t working, it’s going to impact how we operate. We either shift to accommodate that area that isn’t working well, or we look at what it is that isn’t making it work well because we need you to make the system work well, so it’s that systemic kind of thinking.” 

Describing Kineara to a five-year-old, Maria adds “it’s about “being a friend to someone when they are going through difficult times.” This means “someone you can talk to” and who “will go with you thought that journey.” 

Breaking the cycle of homelessness 

Whilst developing our direct support work, we’ve also been involved in delivering community cohesion projects and innovative participatory research on issues of housing services and improving pathways through temporary accommodation. Back in October 2017 AzuKo, Kineara and Poplar HARCA co-hosted a two-part workshop exploring the latter.  

Working alongside Nathan, we brought together 40 people, from over 20 organisations to rethink how we can improve the journey into and through temporary accommodation and illuminate the experience of those going through this journey, and facing challenges, trials and insecurity.  

It’s important we respect that we’re coming into people’s intimate lives, so they don’t feel you are being patronising.” 

We also undertook research with 14 households, revealing that experiences are dynamic, so services are never working with the same person throughout the lifespan of support, particularly those who are ‘vulnerable’. What’s more, we found that financial insecurity can result from a sudden and unexpected breakdown in paperwork/bureaucracy, physical and mental health, landlord relations and family structure among many others, so services should be aware of the link between money and a range of other factors.  

Speaking about finance (especially regarding finance decisions) of individuals and families we work with, Nathan says, “Some of the research we’ve done with families shows there’s something stigmatising around how people spend their money and what they think is the wrong and right way to do so.” To this end, Maria adds that generally, “It’s important we respect that we’re coming into people’s intimate lives, so they don’t feel you are being patronising.”  

Building on strengths 

Maria goes onto highlight the impact of strength-based support, “The first thing you must do is work with a person’s strength. Some people don’t even have a foundation to build on because they’ve been so crushed, so you’ve got to lay yourself down. Step on me, we’re going to be here, we’re going to support you through that. We’re going to be that strength-base.” 

Not only is this type of support useful for the people we work with, but it can be applied to supporting the wellbeing of our team/ practitioners themselves. “The people at Kineara, they’ve got the passion, the care, they are phenomenalKineara would not exist without them, but I have to understand their capacity, what they can do and where their stop isIt’s been an interesting journey; what’s important is we continue to try and look after ourselves at work and outside of work. 

“Maria has incredible insight into the process of working with teams and creating something, which is really brutal and difficult work. She brings such a beauty and lightness to the whole thing which is infectious. I always learn so much from Maria and I really appreciate her as a friend and collaborator,” adds Nathan. 

You can listen to the podcast here 

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing, Impact
New focus group results reveal more is needed to support vulnerable tenants in the private sector

New focus group results reveal more is needed to support vulnerable tenants in the private sector

Here we report the findings from our recent private landlords’ focus group conducted in July, made up of five landlords with differing experiences and backgrounds.

Participants indicated letting properties across England, from Hackney, Fulham, Wandsworth, Cheshire, Dover/Deal/Sandwich, Cardiff and Barnet.

The challenges faced by landlords varied from helping tenants or dealing with tenant issues, dealing with local authorities to having to pay extra stamp duty on their properties. Interestingly, for the same landlord, helping tenants was also the most rewarding aspect of being a landlord, whilst others enjoyed the financial benefits and the satisfaction of sourcing and refurbishing property for rental.

Reflecting on their relationships with their tenants and the local councils, 80% of participants said councils do not provide adequate support for their tenants, however, one landlord differed, “For me, in my experience of being a landlord in Wales, the council are very interactive with landlords and hold meetings in different boroughs.” As for relationships with tenants, 20% dealt entirely with their tenants from the start, whilst 40% used or continue to use a letting agent to manage the properties.

Speaking on pursuing evictions during the last 12 months, 40% of landlords surveyed said the principle reason was due to rent arrears. One landlord said, “I worked with my tenants but had to send them a section 8 Notice to protect myself. They are still in the property and have now paid back all the arrears. I also delayed a rental increase for another year to help them, even though I was losing money due to inflation!”

Asked what a support service might look like, one landlord said that a wellbeing support service sounded good in theory, but in practice they weren’t sure if it would have prevented the eviction.  Further, 80% of respondents believed that financial support and mediation would potentially prevent evictions, however, the support would have to be tailored to the individual situation.

This reinforces the idea behind the holistic nature of Kineara’s housing support services, which includes advice, guidance and advocacy for all families and individuals we work with on matters of housing, including rent arrears, eviction threats, conditions in the home and more.

The intensive support offers practical, financial, wellbeing and therapeutic support for tenants, as well as strengthening the relationships between tenant and landlord, if needed, and connecting landlords to services that can avoid the costs of eviction while putting resources towards the wellbeing of their tenants.

Find out more about our RSP+ and housing support services.

Posted by kineara in Housing, Research
Selected as a member of the London Housing Panel!

Selected as a member of the London Housing Panel!

30 May 2019

We are excited to announce that we’ve been selected to be a member of the London Housing Panel, which will bring together voluntary and community-led organisations to engage with housing issues facing London.

Delivered by Trust for London and the Mayor of London, panel members will come together to explore a wide range of housing issues and perspectives from homelessness to the private rented sector, low-income Londoners to social housing; and to help influence policy pledges and priorities.

The panel is comprised of 15 London-based organisations – from homelessness to equalities groups – providing services, representation or carrying out advocacy work in relation to housing. These include Generation Rent, Homeless link, Solace Women’s Aid and other important members.

Director of panel member Kineara, Maria Morgan, said: “We are very excited to be part of this important new initiative, which brings community representation into housing policy decision making. We look forward to working with the London Housing Panel and the Mayor towards inclusive housing policies for all Londoners.”

As we’ve delivered our housing services, our core focus has been in supporting vulnerable people to sustain tenancies and avoid eviction. Through holistic and tailored support, our experienced practitioners work closely with families and individuals facing challenges times and/or with multi-complex needs. We’ve recently launched our new Rent Support Programme Plus (RSP+), based on our proven model of holistic and intensive practice that has seen a 92% success rate of preventing evictions for social housing tenants – find out more about our work and impact on our website.

We are looking forward to sharing our experiences within housing and working collaboratively with other organisations on housing related issues. As an organisation, one of our aims is to influence wider policy on housing, welfare and other social issues that impact the communities we work with; we believe this is a great opportunity for us to help influence policy pledges and priorities by providing our expertise.

Read the full press release.

Find out more about our housing services.

Posted by kineara in Community, Housing, Latest