Housing minister visits Birmingham homeless scheme
Providing the right support on the journey from homelessness back into the community was top of the agenda when Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP visited a Midland Heart housing scheme.
The Minister was impressed by the services on offer at The Snow Hill, which provides vulnerable adults with a stable home and help with employment and training, health and wellbeing, and building essential life skills.
The scheme has an impressive track record of getting people back into independent living, offering a unique option to swap their 6-12 month supported placement for a more traditional private tenancy once they are feeling settled.
Mrs Wheeler spoke to two current residents, who both said the mix of tenancies gives the scheme a community feel and inspires supported tenants to see what the end of their journey could look like.
“It’s a good standard of living,” explained Craig Lawler (pictured talking to the Minister), who was referred to the scheme by the Salvation Army, where he now works as a volunteer.
“It gives you your confidence back and it helps you to move on. If you want to get back into work you do need a good base, where you can get up every day and get yourself together.”
Fellow resident Donna Robinson added: “The support here is absolutely fantastic. It gives me the drive and the passion to do things I wouldn’t have done before.”
After the visit, the Minister said: “It was a pleasure to visit The Snow Hill and see the impressive accommodation they offer. It was particularly encouraging to meet Craig and Donna and speak to them about their experiences – and especially wonderful to hear they are both now volunteering and looking for paid work.
“The Snow Hill shows just how important it is to support people to access the next stage of housing once they are ready, so they can take the next step on their journey out of homelessness.”
Midland Heart’s chief executive, Glenn Harris, took the opportunity to talk to Mrs Wheeler (pictured, right) about the organisation’s priorities for homeless services, particularly the need to provide different routes out of homelessness and more support at the end of the journey.
He said: “Through our work at places like The Snow Hill in Birmingham we help people who are on the last part of their journey to independent living, moving towards employment and a home of their own.
“We also offer ‘step down’ support for those who struggle once they move on to unsupported living. People who are leaving supported accommodation must have a safety net, so if things don’t go so well, they have a place like The Snow Hill that they can come back to and regroup before trying to live independently again.”