Sefton Families Service means people’s “lives completely changed” by having a secure and stable home’

03 May 2024 4 min read

Housing bosses at Sefton Council have welcome an article in the national I-newspaper that highlights the positive effect of its work with Riverside Housing to help local families who have become homeless.

Support networks

Launched in 2019, the Sefton Families Service offers the families it works with two- or three-bed furnished Riverside homes close to facilities they need, such as schools and friends and family support networks.

All homes supplied through the scheme are furnished, including; sofas, beds, white goods and kitchen equipment. And families have the option to transfer the home from temporary to general needs tenancy after they have received the initial  support they need. This helps them settle immediately into a home-for-life, near schools, family and friends, and as part of the community.

The service was recognised at last year’s Northern Housing Awards where it won the Best Initiative for Tackling Homelessness category.

Far cry from elsewhere

In the article, Sefton Families Service is described as ‘a far cry from what I have experienced elsewhere across England where, too often, families are left languishing in homes that are unfurnished and unsuitable’.

The journalist describes meeting with Service staff who told them their work was “rewarding” and ‘recalled case after case where they had seen people’s “lives completely changed” by having a secure and stable home’.

‘Riverside told me that applying the philosophy of housing first to supporting families who have become homeless in this way has saved Sefton Council £1.5m in the last four years in temporary accommodation costs,’ writes the journalist.

‘Rolling out such an approach nationally would completely change the lives of thousands of children.’

Happy or very happy

An independent service of the Sefton Families Service showed that all the families involved in the initiative were happy or very happy with their home. Some said it exceeded their expectations. Key benefits they identified included proximity to services and peaceful and friendly neighbourhoods.

The scheme’s coordinated approach  has meant the more efficient use of the Council and its partners’ services as well as having a positive impact on families’ health, wellbeing and finances. It has been calculated that the Sefton Families Service delivers £3.36 of benefit for every £1 spent.

Extremely positive impact

Stuart Barnes, Sefton Council’s Assistant Director of Economic Growth and Housing said: “Sefton Families Service has had an extremely positive impact on the day-to-day lives of 60 Sefton families who were facing a number of issues, including homelessness.

“Last year the scheme, which also delivers savings to the Council and its partners, financial value to the Borough, was recognised at the Northern Housing Awards and I am glad to see it mentioned in this very positive article.”

Permanent home with intensive support

John Glenton, executive director of care & support at Riverside, said: "Since 2019, Riverside has been running Sefton Families Service on behalf of Sefton Council. The service sees residents placed in a permanent home on a 12-month trial period with intensive support provided by a Riverside support worker rather than in temporary accommodation.

"The scheme currently has a 97% success rate with every single participant transferring to a long-term social housing tenancy with Riverside. This has enabled 60 families to break the cycle of homelessness – including one family who had previously had to move home 37 times. The service is estimated to have saved the council £1.6m over four years compared to the cost of temporary accommodation.

You can read the full iNews article here

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