After an assessment, a homeless person or someone at risk of homelessness is offered a personal housing plan by the council. This plan has the aim of making sure they have somewhere suitable to live for the next six months, either by trying to stop them becoming homeless or by helping them find housing if they’ve already lost their home.
Whilst helpful, this support only lasts for 8 weeks while threatened with homelessness and a further 8 weeks when homeless. After this period, the council is only obligated to offer a homeless person housing - either emergency or long term - if you meet certain criteria, which the majority of the homeless population don’t meet. One of these criteria is being in priority need, such as being pregnant, a family with children under the age of 16 or homeless due to domestic abuse.
The vast majority of those who remain homeless following their personal housing plan are therefore unable to access any housing or accommodation support from the government. Thankfully, there are many amazing charities that step in, with night shelters offering a basic, short term solution and hostels providing longer term housing support. Even hostels are ultimately only a temporary solution, though, and they often have long waiting lists.
Escaping homelessness is not simply about housing. Support with employability, mental health, addiction and other issues is also needed. Charities such as Aspire Oxford, Greater Change’s first partner, are crucial in providing this support and putting homeless people in a position where they are ready to sustain their housing long term and improve their quality of life.
There are often financial barriers in being able to do so, however, for example the cost of a rent deposit when a homeless person hasn’t yet been able to save or the cost of a vital training course after which they would be able to secure employment. This is where Greater Change comes in. We run personalised, targeted funding campaigns for homeless persons, with specific goals, such as a rent deposit, so that clients are able to take that final step out of homelessness and into permanent, secure housing.
Michael, a former client of Greater Change, is a great example of this. He faced very difficult living circumstances for a significant period of his life and was eventually able to acquire accommodation but needed Greater Change’s help to make a house a home, as there were only 5 items already in his new flat. With the financial help Greater Change was able to provide, Michael was able to furnish his house and make it a home.
“It makes me very proud to say I live here and it’s the first ‘home’ I’ve ever had in my life. This money is so important for people like me who need a break and some help having gone without for so long. I’m grateful for every penny. It took a lot of hard work to get the flat like this , but I couldn’t have done it without the financial help so thank you.”