Some time ago we started to remove the word ‘independent’ from our brand Tenancy & Independent Living Skills (TILS). In social care and supported housing in particular, there is an obsession with ‘independence’. Whether this is wishful thinking around people no longer being dependent on their services is unclear. That ‘independence’ is neither desirable nor achievable seems clearer.
People find themselves homeless for as many reasons as there are homeless people – a unique set of circumstances led to that moment. What we do know about rough sleeping (the tip of the homelessness iceberg) is that the chances of being homeless are massively increased for those that have been in the care system, in prison, in the military, suffering with mental health needs and/or previously homeless. Poverty, a lack of employment that pays a decent wage combined with unaffordable housing are driving the current wave where over 300,000 by some estimates, are believed to be homeless.
In temporary, supported and transitional accommodation, and ultimately faced with crisis, people can become dependent on other people and services. When something as fundamental as a roof over your head is provided it is easy to see how this happens. In this context it feels natural for the drive to be towards ‘independence’ as a counter to their previous situation and a marker of ‘success’.
During our restorative, asset-based and coaching Move-On 1-2-1 support sessions, ideally following Pre-tenancy group workshops, people have the opportunity to explore the lived realities of living away from their previous supported setting and to put theory into practise. People who have previously lived in supported accommodation, prison, social care settings etc face huge challenges in moving on, navigating services, fighting stigma and prejudice and overcoming whatever barriers led them there in the first place. 25,000 of those leaving supported accommodation will have been previously homeless.
As a group both shut out of affordable housing and more likely to be homeless in the future, it is vital that this Move-On Support is delivered in a way that develops inter-dependence rather than independence. In so doing we reduce reliance on other services, build self-esteem as a means of accessing help, knowledge about the support available and the confidence to Manage Money, a Tenancy and the Cost of Living crisis – to avoid repeat homelessness.