"A successful society is marked by how we look after the most vulnerable people"

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Housing Brokerage

Partnership working means you can work closer together and get better outcomes for the client. Working in this way means we can create simpler, easier routes for people to get support. We can also build relationships and have conversations with clients, probation, organisations, and charities.

I’m a Housing Brokerage Officer. I work with people who are on probation to find somewhere to live. 

At the moment I have a caseload of 21 people. I work with both men and women – all have either left prison or are coming out of prison. At the moment I’m working with a lot of people who are homeless – people who are living in tents and sofa surfing. It’s an intense role.

I support them for 12 weeks and help them look at all their options in terms of housing and preventing homelessness, often liaising with landlords and finding solutions to fit their lifestyle. 

There’s a huge waiting list. People are referred to me by their Probation Officer. They have to be ready for change because we only have 12 weeks to work together. If someone’s support needs are higher than we originally thought, I can’t work with them until they are able to engage with the process better.

I try to first meet and assess clients at the Hastings Probation Office with their Probation Officer when they are already going to be there. For clients who can’t get to the probation office or for those living in Eastbourne where there is no office, I meet them in the community such as in cafes, the STAR Drug and Alcohol Service, and the jobcentre.

At the initial assessment meeting I look at their current housing situation and benefits so that I can then get together an action plan for them. A lot of people think they’re going to be given a housing solution in that first meeting so I have to manage their expectations because we’re living in dire times.

At the moment, house sharing is the most viable option in East Sussex. The reality is most people won’t get social housing and the benefits system doesn’t realistically allow people to live by themselves. A house share can give them an address to find work and get back on track. 

House shares can be a really good option for people to feel part of the community. They are good for social inclusion, helping each other out, and building confidence. Society is bigger than you and me - it’s about community – and that’s what a house share can help create. 

For me, a successful society is marked by how we look after the most vulnerable people. Right now we’re living in a very selfish society. A lot of people walk past the homeless on the street, leaving them to feel like the dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. But that person could have worked for 20 years and found themselves in a downward spiral and out of control. We’re all human.

I meet clients once a week but because I’m responsive to the needs of the individual it’s sometimes more. During our sessions we talk about health, employment – just how their life is. 

Sometimes people have their own solutions and we talk about what they could do to make things better. We often talk about work and finding ways to use their skills. I always believe in people and I help them realise their own potential. That little bit of TLC and confidence can help change things for someone.

I try and go above and beyond and do what I can to push things. I go the extra mile. I want to get the best outcome for people I work beside. I like to try and make things easier for people who might not have support in their life.

I started working at Southdown in 2012 in the Home Works housing support service. I was a Floating Support Officer there for seven years. The key thing we do at Southdown is help others. It’s a privilege.

Because of my experience at Home Works I already had links with people which helps in this role. I also work with charities to find deposits and rent in advance for clients so that the strain on the council is lessened. Charities for people who’ve worked in certain industries are especially useful for grants and funding. Turn 2 Us is the website I often use to identify these.

I’m a co-located Southdown worker which means I have to be adaptable as I work in other organisations’ offices and also at HMP Lewes. I’ve been welcomed in these places – it’s been interesting to see how different people operate and work and I also see the pressures they are under in their jobs.

Partnership working means you can work closer together and get better outcomes for the client. Working in this way means we can create simpler, easier routes for people to get support. We can also build relationships and have conversations with clients, probation, organisations, and charities.

There are always challenges especially when money and funding gets cut. The big challenge in East Sussex is a lack of supported housing. Often we have to go out of county to find suitable accommodation. 

Working within the criminal justice system has been interesting – it’s unpredictable and it’s a long, lengthy process. Sometimes it takes a long while for an offence to be heard. 

I’ve had four of my clients die and that’s the hardest part of this job. People may do horrible things in life, but they still need a home and warmth. Some people are difficult to work with but I still want to do my best for them, so when they die I do grieve and wish I had managed to get success for them.

I find my voluntary work helps me. I volunteer at the Wildlife Rescue Ambulance Service (WRAS) in Uckfield every Sunday. I’m passionate about helping animals – they’re struggling at the moment. It relaxes me. It gives me time to process things. 

I’ve been a Gig Buddy for seven years at the Stay Up Late charity. I like music and I think everyone with learning disabilities should be allowed to live a good life. We go out once a month to see stuff! The best feeling is seeing a smile on someone’s face. 

People and my interactions with them are the main thing in my life. Whether it’s for seven years or just a moment. I also like to discover and see things. I was summiting Mount Kilimanjaro two years ago today! I also referee football tournaments abroad in the summer– I’ve done that for five years.

I’m proud to work for Southdown. I think Southdown brings an element of calm to the difficult world we live in. I know I’m a unique person and Southdown allows me to work in my own way with flexibility and freedom.

 

Working with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company (KSS CRC), the Housing Brokerage Service supports people using probation services to secure and sustain suitable accommodation.