World Homeless Day is a chance to reflect on how we can continue to challenge ourselves to improve the services we provide and ultimately support people to improve their lives.

Tackling and preventing homelessness is something we really care about across the ForViva Group. And something I’m personally committed to prioritising.

I recently spent the day with one of our teams that does outreach work with rough sleepers. The passion of the staff was truly inspiring.

One worker told me how she is holding off retiring until she helps one of the rough sleepers she works with into a secure home. It made me incredibly proud.

By supporting people sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness to turn their lives around ForViva staff are making a real and lasting difference.

It fits perfectly with our Group’s united vision – improved lives.

There is always more we can do.

We must continue to better understand people’s needs and work together to prevent homelessness before it happens.

That starts with talking and listening to people who are homeless and having open and honest discussions with partners.

We recently ran an event - Heads Together for Homelessness - which brought together staff, tenants, and stakeholders where we did just that.

I learnt a lot from the session.

We know that partnership working is absolutely key. No one agency or organisation can solve the problem of homelessness alone. Working together, we have the opportunity to enable people to unlock their potential and change lives for the better.

One of the other priorities we discussed at the event is our work to help prevent people from losing their homes in the first place.

Following our discussions, we now plan to develop a life-skills programme, offering tenants and prospective tenants training in basic skills needed to live better.

We’ll be using information to identify changes in circumstances and early triggers to help support people before they become homeless.

We’re also keen to create a multi-agency portal that will signpost people to the relevant support quickly and easily.

Another focus was how we can be more proactive in avoiding young people becoming homeless. By using intelligence we can contact parents of young people when they are turning 16 and where it’s needed offer help with accessing training through our Bright Futures pathway.

We’ll also work with schools and colleges to offer a range of routes into training and work, improving and increasing career opportunities within communities.

We need to put behind us some of the more traditional ways of working as a landlord and think more innovatively.

As technology continues to evolve, we can use it to help those in communities where we work.

We’re currently looking into social CRM, which integrates social media platforms with customer relationship management systems to provide insight and improve the quality of customer engagement.

But ultimately, we all felt staying focused on people as individuals and tailoring services and support to their specific needs should be at the heart of our approach.

We need to continue to speak to people who are homeless, listen, learn and empathise. We should never underestimate the devastation that homelessness brings.

At the event, we heard from people who have been homeless that teams from across ForHousing, the landlord that sits within the ForViva Group, have supported.

That included Adam.

18 months ago, Adam was living in a tent under a motorway flyover. Now, he is celebrating becoming ForHousing’s very first Housing First tenant and is looking for a job thanks to the support he received from one of our outreach workers.

The Housing First approach has been lauded internationally and has gained traction in the past few years in the UK as a new model for tackling homelessness.

Our forfutures team is dedicated to providing a range of support to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Cheshire West and Chester.

The team is now underway with a 12-month Housing First pilot project with partners in the Cheshire West and Chester area, including ForHousing, to help more people like Adam.

They are just one element of our work to put an end to homelessness.

Across ForViva we invest profits in the prevention of homelessness by building new homes and supporting tenants to remain in their current homes through advice and practical assistance.

World Homeless Day is a great way to highlight the issue of homelessness.

But we need to continue to listen to the people who need our help, bring passion and innovation to our work and build strong partnerships to find our way to achieving our goal of ending homelessness.

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