DDN December 2021 December 2021 | Page 14




have worked in supported housing for a long time , over forty years to be precise . I was a frontline worker in Women ’ s Aid , housing women and children fleeing from violent and controlling relationships – sometimes three or four families sharing a three-bed house in a residential street . Just pause and think how desperate all those women and their children were , and still are today , to uproot courageously and move into overcrowded shared accommodation , often staying for over a year before their housing situation is resolved .
In the ’ 90s , I managed one of the largest hostels in London , Arlington House . It accommodated 400 men who had been homeless and had mental health and
The need for quality supported housing is now greater than ever , says Gill Arukpe
substance misuse issues . I share this with you to show how the needs of people in the UK have not changed over decades . Supported housing was and still is needed for the most vulnerable of our society , and we need to continue providing it – and doing so even better .
CHANGING TIMES Over the past ten to 20 years , the supported housing field has changed hugely . Most supported housing schemes for adults with social care and health issues run in much smaller buildings now , which is positive . In the Social Interest Group ( SIG ) we provide housing and accommodation services for adults who have had a long-term enduring mental illness and often have comorbidity with addiction or personality disorder . We also work to support people who have been in the criminal justice system and have mental health issues , personality disorders and substance or alcohol misuse .
It is essential to our residents and us that we provide traumainformed accommodation . It is vital that our residents feel valued , and that the look of the housing and the upkeep of that accommodation is of high specification – this is essential in aiding residents ’ recovery and rehabilitation or resettlement . In my experience , if you offer poor quality accommodation , no matter how good the support is residents will find it difficult to trust you and engage . Their mood is affected , and the level of aggression in the house can rise quickly .
ESSENTIAL SPACE Providing spacious rooms with ensuite facilities so residents do not have to share is essential . Many of our residents have had to share facilities for years . They have often experienced trauma and had poor experiences using support in the past . The need to
In my experience , if you offer poor quality accommodation , no matter how good the support is residents will find it difficult to trust you and engage .
value them as people by the quality of the accommodation is essential . The SIG has a property strategy which we hope to realise over the next three years – to replace all our accommodation that does not provide ensuite as a minimum .
Very recently National Housing Group approached me and told me about their vision to provide supported housing that was fit for purpose . Refreshingly , they asked for our input while they got the building ready before completion .