East Cambridgeshire District Council has been recognised at this year’s National Practitioner Support Service’s (NPSS) annual conference for their continued work on prevention of homelessness in the area.
The housing department at the Council came away with two awards from the conference held on Tuesday 4th July at The University of Warwick. The first of which celebrated the work of the whole team and the second for Housing Options Officer, Sarah Burton.
The Gold Standard challenge is a local authority sector led peer-review scheme designed to help local authorities deliver more cost-effective homelessness prevention services. The award criteria, which sets the context for local authorities and their partners to provide a gold standard level of service, is rooted to ten local challenges. The Homelessness Prevention team at East Cambridgeshire District Council were awarded a bronze certificate for their work and are keen to progress this award to gold at the next opportunity.
Housing Options Officer, Sarah Burton was one of three nationally to be chosen as a winner of the NPSS ‘Going the Extra Mile award’. The award recognised her continued hard work alongside the creation of Ely’s Community Hub.
Councillor Mike Rouse, Service Delivery Champion for Housing said: “It is great to see the hard work of this department being acknowledged by their peers, East Cambs has a long history of working to ensure that no resident goes without help in a time of need and it is good to see that continuing with such strength”.
Councillor Anna Bailey, Chairman of the Regulatory Services Committee, said: “I am thrilled to see this department awarded for the sterling work that they do. The team have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent service for those who face critical life-changing situations. I would personally like to thank and offer my congratulations to Sarah Burton for her creative approach and hard work resulting in chances to support people that are normally very hard to reach.”
The Community Hub is a drop-in clinic situated and in partnership with the Lighthouse Centre every Tuesday. The hub offers hot food, tea and coffee and a wealth of information for people including managing debt, alcohol and drug dependency, mental health issues, housing related concerns and any other support needs.
These award wins come at a time when the homelessness prevention team are celebrating three years of success in tackling the issue.
In 2014 the region’s three homeless hostels were full to bursting, there were 200 households considered to be in desperate need and 30 households in bed and breakfast accommodation, costing the local authority £750,000 a year.
But months after implementing a new strategy, the Council’s dedicated team had emptied one of the hostels, reduced the priority list to single figures, slashed the cost of B&B placements to zero and handed a £250,000 saving back to the council.
Angela Parmenter, Housing and Community Safety Manager said: “We are extremely proud of all we have achieved but we can’t afford to get complacent. Homelessness is about taking a joined up approach, to ensure that the most vulnerable in society have the help and support they need to get their lives back on track. We will continue to deliver that service to the best of our ability”.