Step One supports people with mental health problems and disabilities by offering care in supported living accommodation which residents can rely on for stability, safety, and security. Residents in Step One’s supported living accommodation have often experienced a lot of uncertainty in their lives, especially over the past two years of the pandemic. Recently a key source of independence – their accommodation – was put at risk due to the immediate closure of their previous Housing Trust.
This left five members of Step One’s service users stranded amongst thirteen others. There was uncertainty and panic as they were served notice on their properties by their previous housing association.
Thankfully, United Response, an established charity that supports young people and adults with a variety of mental health problems and disabilities, stepped in as a landlord and secured a tenancy for all eighteen of these people, allowing them to keep their home.
“We were really pleased that United Response was able to mobilise so quickly and take over the role as a landlord to 5 of those we support in the Exeter area. This was a very stressful and unsettling time for those we support in the community with an Autism Spectrum Condition.” – Sarah, Step One’s Community Services Manager.
After being identified as suitable Landlords to deliver intensive housing management, United Response responded quickly and immediately worked with landlords, letting agents and local authorities to set up new agreements, allowing them to continue to provide housing support to the current residents with little disruption. This included hiring two part-time Housing and Welfare Officers to provide a smooth service, both of whom were also made redundant due to the closure of their previous company.
Here is what Clare, one of the Housing and Welfare Officers based in Devon has to say:
‘’I am delighted to have the opportunity to work as a Housing and Welfare Officer for United Response in Devon. This new service has secured 7 tenancies for vulnerable individuals in Exeter at a time when there are significant challenges in sourcing accommodation. Not only has this taken away the stress and anxiety around trying to find a new home, but it has also given the reassurance that United Response will provide housing support and work alongside other providers such as Step One Charity to ensure they are fully supported. The housing team at United Response had to work very quickly to liaise with landlords, letting agents, and the local authority and it has been amazing to see how the team pulled together to make this happen.’’
Anna Ingleby-Oddy, United Response’s Housing Manager, said that the continuity of care and security to all eighteen of these people was United Response’s main concern and that the offer of being a landlord allowed United Response’s team to be a part of something bigger. Anna then said that the opportunity to secure housing management for eighteen vulnerable people is her biggest achievement in her career so far and without the support of Head of Housing, Mike Corfield and Director, Tim Cooper, none of this would have been possible.