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In 1974 a group of volunteers set up a 'night shelter' in Charles Street, Hanley. Potteries Housing Association was founded following the success of this initiative which gave people who were street homeless, a bed for the night on a first come, first served basis.
In the mid 1980’s, the Association took on a lease of the old Granville Hotel in Sampson Street, Hanley. This became the only hostel in North Staffordshire where people who found themselves to be homeless, could be accommodated. The Granville provided 26 bedrooms, as a ‘direct access’ service. The support staff worked with people in the hostel to find suitable alternative accommodation. Over the years, the teams have become more experienced in supporting people into other services, such as primary care or addiction programmes. The Granville offered temporary accommodation for up to 6 months and approximately 400 people used the service every year.
At around the same time, there was awareness that a number of people, who used the hostel, were also experiencing long-term problems due to alcohol misuse. Hopwood House, situated in Shelton, became established as a residential alcohol project. The scheme can accommodate up to 12 people, supported using a model of ‘relapse management’ which may take up to two years. There are a small number of flats provided as move-on housing, and the support team offer floating support options for people who have successfully moved on.
In 1995, due to the high numbers of people seeking temporary accommodation at the Granville, the managers and staff carried out a single night ‘rough sleeper count’ within North Staffordshire, and as a result of that, funding was secured to set up Rough Sleepers Team, based at the Granville. The team continues to do outreach work in the streets and car parks, building relationships with the people who find themselves homeless, offering support, a warm drink, and where vacancies allow, a room at the hostel.
In order to provide resettlement support as a second stage to the hostels, the Community Housing Support Team was set up. CHST provides accommodation and support to people who have previously been homeless, spent some time in a hostel setting and who are in a position to live independently with the help of a support network.
The Womens Service developed to provide support to women who were either involved, or at risk of becoming involved in street prostitution. The schemes offer support and advice to women who want to exit prostitution or, in the case of young girls between the ages of 12 and 16, education and support to prevent them becoming involved.
By 2005 the Granville, Hopwood House, Rough Sleepers Team, Community Housing Support Team and Women’s Services were grouped together and collectively know as ‘Hostels and Temporary Housing’.
In 1995, PHA recognised that a large number of people, who were presenting at the Granville, also had some level of mental illness. It was recognised that people were experiencing the ‘revolving door’ of hospital in-patient stays, prison, sleeping rough, inappropriate private rented housing, hostel. In response to this identified need, the Partnership Project was founded. The scheme was based on the premise that if PHA provided good quality housing, Social Services supported people with their daily living needs, and medical care was provided through the Health Trust. By 2005 the Partnership Housing Programme had almost 100 people living in the community, with plans for continued development.
The Partnership Project developed its own strategic management group and operational teams to consider other developments in providing mental health support. In direct response to service user consultation, the first safe house called ‘Brunswick House’, was opened in 1999. Brunswick has become an example of best practice within mental health services and offers safe space or sanctuary, for people suffering from mental distress or crisis, and for whom a hospital admission is not appropriate. The scheme is an ‘out of hours’ service opening from Friday lunchtime through to Monday lunchtime. In 2006, a second safe house was opened, called Phoenix House. This increased the total provision to eight bed spaces per weekend, with initial referral by a professional and up to three subsequent self referrals. The Safe Spaces Network offers support in a non-medical setting, with staff available to offer support at all hours through the weekend. Visitors are not allowed, which helps to promote the feeling of security and sanctuary within the house. All guests are made to feel welcome and ‘at home’ by having the choice to either enjoy the company of others or to spend the time alone.
Following advice from staff at the safe house, it became apparent that a large number of guests had experienced self-harm or attempted suicide. There were no support networks available in the area at that time, and by using the house during the week as a meeting space, ECHO was established. The ECHO group now has its own base, ECHO House, at The Dudson Centre, Stoke on Trent. The service offers various opportunities througout the week and also offers training to professionals.
In 2000, following discussions between the commissioners in both North and South Staffordshire, again in response to service users’ consultation, the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline was set up. The helpline operates from 7pm – 2am from weekdays, and 2pm – 2am weekends. Fully trained helpline staff provide support and information to people who are concerned about their mental health or that of someone they know. The helpline also offers a ‘ring out’ service to people, including carers, referred by someone involved in their support. The helpline takes on average around 18000 calls per year and successfully speaks to around 1200 people every month. The team support approximately 60 potential suicide calls per month.
In 2000 the Partnership Team met with a social entrepreneur, Mike Moors, who wanted to set up the Vision Trust, which could help fund innovative schemes providing support to people who had experienced mental ill health. Together with funding through the Health Action Zone, PHA worked with the Partnership to set up the American Clubhouse, a scheme based on the Clubhouse model first started in New York over 50 years ago.
The American Clubhouse opened its doors on Thanksgiving Day 2000. The aim of the Clubhouse is to support people, not their illness. People who define themselves as having mental illness can become a social member. Through the work of the support team, people may experience an increase in feelings of confidence and self worth, and may wish to take part in the running of the scheme and become a working member. Working Membership can then lead to periods of time in supported employment with the very real prospect of returning to work.
The scheme also offers social and leisure activities along with some education and training for members. Social Membership had reached almost 1500 by 2005 and the scheme regularly supports over 250 people per month. Following on from the success of the American Clubhouse and its ever increasing membership, space became limited and the old Observatory, in Hanley, was purchased. As an extension of The Clubhouse Network, the Observatory is used as a training, arts and resource centre. In 2009 a third clubhouse, Twentyfour SEVEN opened on Hillcrest Street, Hanley. The Network has become a resource for other mental health services including Happy Mondays (women only group), CHANGES, Assertive Outreach and the North Staffs Carers Group.
All of these schemes come together as the second part of the organisation under the name of ‘Mental Health Partnership Schemes’.
In 2006, after a period of consultation and discussion, PHA changed its name to Brighter Futures and adopted the new strap line – creative support, housing and employment.
After an extensive period of negotiation with a local developer, Brighter Futures was very pleased to close and vacate the Granville and move to a brand new £2M hostel building in one of the major gateways to the city centre – 90 Hope Street. The result of an innovate partnership deal with the private sector, and at no cost to Brighter Futures or with any public subsidy, 90 Hope Street offers a very high standard of accommodation and support to people who have been homeless. The service promotes inclusion and values the people we support. No 90 has adopted some elements of the Clubhouse model, with residents from the top floor ‘community’ (6 bedsits) being involved in providing services to others within the hostel building.
In 2008 Brighter Futures, in a consortium arrangement with North Staffs YMCA and Gingerbread, bid for and were awarded a large contract to provide floating support to people living within the City of Stoke on Trent. This new service became known as ‘smartmoves’. The focus of this service is to support people in their own home, across all tenures, and help them to remain independent. Subsequent additions to the original contract, providing support to people in Newcastle and the Moorlands and specifically to people over 55, means that smartmoves now supports over 700 people. Recently the scheme has been involved in a pilot to support hospital discharge.
The Corston Report, published in 2007, identified the fact that for many women, a prison sentence failed to address the root causes of their offending. These sentences, often due to a build up of minor offences, had a significant social cost, because of family breakdown, homelessness and debt. In 2010, Brighter Futures were awarded one of the countries largest grants from the Ministry of Justice, to set up a ‘one stop shop’, which would bring services together into one safe space. At Chepstow House women are able to seek advice and support on housing, benefits and debt, social care and family interventions. The Courts are able to offer Chepstow House as an alternative to prison, and the success of this service has been in reducing the re-offending rate for some women. based on its success, Chepstow House has been awarded further funding to continue its work in 2011, against a background of cuts in other areas.
In 2009 Brighter Futures were selected by Stoke on Trent City Council, to develop housing in the community for people whose lives are affected by a learning disability. Stoke on Trent has a high number of people living in residential or care settings, who are assessed as being capable of maintaining a tenancy, with support. Based on the established and successful mental health housing scheme, the council agreed to provide homes from their housing stock, which would be transferred to Brighter Futures on a lease. After a full refurbishment, furnishing and fitting out, people are supported to become independent. It is intended that those who can successfully manage their tenancy, could revert to a tenant with the local authority in their own right. Within two years, and with additional housing provided by Brighter Futures the scheme already has almost 20 people, who have spent many years in residential care, living in a place they call home, being engaged in the community, in some cases volunteering or working.
Working in partnership, Brighter Futures and North Staffs Mind are offering a new, creative service to people with mental health problems living in Newcastle. The service gives people the opportunity to develop their own action plan with a dedicated support worker who works with them to achieve their goals. The service helps those who use it to meet new people, get into training and education, learn new skills and engage in volunteering and work opportunities. We also help people to improve their mental and physical wellbeing and increase their confidence. The service can be delivered wherever the person feels comfortable, at their own home, somewhere else they feel comfortable or in a range of locations across the Newcastle area. The service focuses on what customers want. We will develop activity sessions in local, accessible community spaces in response to their involvement. Customers will also be central in developing promotional materials and reviewing the service.
Brighter Futures has set out its vision for the next five years in the 2010 – 2015 Corporate Strategy.
Brighter Futures provides support to those who require extra help to live independent and fulfilled lives. Our customers are people whose life chances including their health, employability and social skills have been impoverished by the impact of living in deprived areas and on low incomes.
Poverty and inequality are linked to poor physical and mental health. The associated lack of opportunities creates disadvantage which leads to homelessness, addictions, and involvement in crime. Volunteering, work-opportunities and getting a job, along with good quality housing, skills and good health are integral to the solution. We will offer employment to our customers and we will support people to achieve their goals whether they are staff or customers.
Our services respond to needs and focus on outcomes. They have been developed in consultation with customers and the involvement of our partners. They are based on what works. We provide a range of services to people including supporting people to live more independently, providing a range of housing and access to a wide range of opportunities.