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A national Housing First forum saw representatives from different homelessness services including hostels, rough sleeper services, and supported housing projects gather to hear how they can improve the support offered for women with multiple disadvantages. 

Homeless Link’s: Enhancing your Housing First Service, which took place on Thursday, July 1, saw members of the Brighter Futures Housing First team showcase their use of a gender-informed approach and how it helps to improve the lives of homeless women.  

Brighter Futures, through a Specialist Homeless Women’s Worker, provides specialist support for issues common in women with a history of homelessness, such as trauma, abuse, and other complex issues.   

Manager Jane Turner, who was part of the workshop at the event, says:  

“We’re pleased to be asked to talk about Housing First Stoke-on-Trent and the gender-informed support we provide.  

“We were given a grant from Homeless Link in late-2019 and we’ve used this to get the best possible results for women that we support. To get the chance to showcase and give advice to other Housing First providers nationally is exciting.” 

Housing First is an innovative approach to tackling homelessness where other approaches have not worked and where something different is needed. Its principles state that people have a right to a home, flexible support is given if it is needed, and individuals have choice and control.  

The service has been active in Stoke-on-Trent since 2018.  

The project led by Brighter Futures is in partnership with Expert Citizens and funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund. What sets this project apart is the use of lived experience through the service at every level – which is provided by Expert Citizens. 

Jane continues:  

“Through our project – a three-year pilot – we evaluate results and go the extra mile to understand our customers and what they need to take the next steps. We’re a part of a great project to tackle homelessness locally and need to ensure we continue to be innovative in our approach.  

“It involves more intense support – which is the reason we have low caseloads. We have Peer Mentors working in the service through Expert Citizens who manage this. These are people with lived experience and understand the situation our customers are in. We find this is the magic ingredient for engagement and other ways of working with them.” 

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