Why our supported housing managers have written to their MPs

10/11/2020

Our Head of Social Policy, Jonathan Moore, explains how crucial more funding is to the future of supported housing services.

Last month Deborah Stephenson, our Associate Director of Accommodation Services, set out some of the challenges facing mental health supported housing services, and why they are integral to the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, ending out of area placements, and fulfilling the recommendations of the Mental Health Act review.

Despite their importance, supported housing for people severely affected by mental illness remains underfunded. While there has been a welcome increase in funding to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, for that funding to work, it needs to be matched by funding for social care including housing. With the Government due to set out its funding commitments at the end of the month, it is important that MPs and ministers know and appreciate the importance of adequately funding supported housing.

  • It is important that MPs and ministers know and appreciate the importance of adequately funding supported housing

Although talking about the bigger picture in the issues we campaign on is always important, real world information about local challenges our services face can be incredibly powerful too. Our service managers contacted their MPs about the challenges they had seen due to limited funding, what additional investment would allow them to do, and why this was important now in the context of Covid-19.

The information our services provided in response only strengthens our case that investment in supported housing should be made a priority. We heard examples of services that are only able to offer support from 9am to 5pm, who explained that with additional investment, they could provide on-call services around the clock and have staff on-site for longer to help people in need.

  • The information our services provided in response only strengthens our case that investment in supported housing should be made a priority

Other services have had to turn down referrals for some potential tenants because there isn’t capacity in the service to provide the level of help they would need. We also heard of examples of services who want to help tenants engage with other services in the community to support their recovery. Our Communities that Care report showed how important this is to the recovery of someone severely affected by mental illness, but financial restraints mean that in many cases our services don’t receive the funding they need to provide that wider support.

Unsurprisingly the people our supported housing services support have also been affected by the pandemic. Some of our services have seen an increase in the number of tenants who have been admitted to hospital. Our service managers believe that if they were funded to provide additional support, many of those admissions which are both expensive but most importantly detrimental to recovery, could have been avoided.

There are knock on effects too – tenants return to our services having been more unwell, need additional support, and often need to stay with us for longer. As a result, waiting lists for other people who need support from our housing services grow.

  • The Government has the chance to realise this change. It is vital that it is taken. We hope that MPs and ministers are listening

These real world examples show the difference that increased funding could make to the support that services like ours could offer to people severely affected by mental illness, and in turn the difference it could make to them. This month, the Government has the chance to realise this change. It is vital that it is taken. We hope that MPs and ministers are listening.

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