How support services for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents are delivered will be discussed by senior councillors next week.
With people’s needs changing and becoming more complex, members of the council’s executive board are being asked to approve a new approach for housing related support services when they meet on Wednesday 21 October.
A total of 25 organisations currently provide 42 services – either accommodation based or visiting services – to people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness, who have suffered domestic abuse, are offenders, have mental health issues and people with drug or alcohol dependencies.
In 2014/2015 over 10,500 individuals and families were supported to achieve, maintain and progress towards independent living. 6,500 users left the support services having achieved a total of 28,000 outcomes ranging from securing accommodation, tackling fuel poverty, improving their physical and mental health and developing work and life skills.
An ongoing review of the current support offer has identified key features that could inform what a new service could look like. This is based on an analysis of existing services, need and demand alongside feedback from service users and consultation with providers and partners.
The key principles for a new model include a single adult visiting support service delivered by multi-agency teams based in specific areas to build on local expertise. Identified support workers would provide continuity for service users alongside peer support which has proved successful in newer existing services.
This model would be integrated with existing council services and would also provide emergency and short term accommodation with an intensive package of support for the most vulnerable.
The main benefit for services users would be a single service where they only have to tell their story once but that can be accessed many ways. That service would be integrated, flexible and responsive to their individual needs, with support that prevents those needs escalating or becoming more complex.
In addition, the range of accommodation provided would be fit for purpose and more than just a bed for the night.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“There is no doubt that the housing related support services help vulnerable adults, young people and families turn their lives around, the results we’ve already seen speak for themselves.
“However, we know that people’s needs are becoming more complex. By reviewing how services are delivered we have an opportunity to ensure we can respond to those changes and continue to provide positive, sustained outcomes for some of our most vulnerable residents.
“The proposed principles for the new services, if approved, give us a solid foundation to work from.”
Contracts with existing providers are set to operate until March 2017. If approved, the principles would inform the specification and procurement of a new service, due to start in April 2017.
The council will continue to work with service providers and users throughout the development and procurement process.
Workforce development has been identified as a key to the success of the model, with a commitment to support training needs.
Councillor Coupar concluded:
“Talking about any kind of service change can be daunting and we don’t underestimate the impact the housing related support services have. Ultimately people are at the heart of these services – the people that need our help and the people that provide that support – and we’re committed to keeping people informed throughout this process.”