A success story for the most vulnerable

Just over three months ago a new organisation was launched to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping across four Lincolnshire districts.

The Change4Lincs project, led by South Kesteven District Council, was set up thanks to a £600,000 Government grant to support people known to be rough sleeping or who were at risk of having to do so.

In South Kesteven alone Change4Lincs outreach workers have already:

·       Worked with 19 rough sleepers

·       Provided intensive housing support to 20 clients

·       Provided tenancy support to 15 clients

The team has placed six clients in private accommodation; 24 rough sleepers and homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation or local authority houses of multiple occupation; helped two clients access rehabilitation services; and placed one client into supported accommodation.

SKDC Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Robert Reid, said: "Change4Lincs is a real success story, providing vital help and support to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

"The triple threat of winter weather, a global pandemic and Christmas has been a particular challenge for the team but it is one they have risen to.

"We have also been impressed with how the private sector has played its part. We are currently in a situation where demand outstrips supply locally and so are having to adjust and work with landlords to secure accommodation.

"One of the ways we have done so is by arranging virtual viewings of accommodation, which also complies with Coronavirus restrictions."

Change4Lincs has established strong links with the national charity, We Are With You (formerly Addaction), which offers free, confidential support to people who have issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health.

It will also be working with NHS partners to ensure Coronavirus vaccinations will be available to its vulnerable clients.

SKDC is working with North Kesteven, South Holland and West Lindsey district councils under the Change4Lincs banner.

Cllr Reid said: This is a genuine partnership approach across the four districts. We are committed to helping people break the cycle of rough sleeping and homelessness and support them into safe and secure accommodation.

"Change4Lincs is having a real impact in helping people transform their lives and get off the streets."

An information booklet has been produced that is available from district council offices and support hubs. The booklet includes a QR code that takes users to http://www.southkesteven.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=15137 where more information about Change4Lincs is available along with contact details for all four councils:

South Kesteven District Council: www.southkesteven.gov.uk 01476 406080

North Kesteven District Council: www.n-kesteven.gov.uk 01529 414155

South Holland District Council: www.sholland.gov.uk 01775 761161

West Lindsey District Council: www.west-lindsey.gov.uk 01427676676

Sam Atherton

Change4Lincs case study

By outreach worker Sam Atherton

My client was staying in various places around Grantham. He was sometimes offered a sofa to sleep on, but the rest of the time he was rough sleeping.

He was working with SKDC's homeless prevention team and, in October 2020, we gathered together the information that was needed in order for him to secure a rent deposit.

The Change4Lincs lettings team was able to secure a flat for him. He had no furniture and very few belongings but we were able to provide kitchen essentials and encouraged him to source furniture and other items he would need.

He was extremely proactive and was able to find the things he needed to make his new flat into a home. He has no computer skills and limited life skills so I helped him complete a successful application for Universal Credit.

We set up utilities accounts, applied for Council Tax Support, and managed rent payments going straight to his landlord are now in place.

He is proud of his flat and I've been delighted to see that he is making a lovely home for himself and that he keeps it clean and tidy.

We are going to be looking at budgeting skills next. I also intend to try to encourage him to look for positive activities and to consider a beginner's computer course, when life returns to normal. By doing this he will become more self-sufficient and his confidence will grow even more.

There are still things in that we need to work on, but he has responded well to the help and support Change4Lincs has been able to provide and is determined to continue the progress he has made so far.