About us Blogs How working together in Nottingham is harvesting rewards From our Nottingham Co-ordinator, Laura My job as co-ordinator is incredibly varied. In the morning I can be meeting an individual referred to us for housing, followed by the afternoon spent in a homeless forum discussing local policy and in the evening be training up a new group of volunteers or talking to an interested group of investors. Like elsewhere in the country, homelessness in Nottingham has been increasing over the last year and we have no shortage of referrals for our bed spaces from people in desperate situations. I have been investing time this year in building closer working relationships with other small homeless charities in Nottingham and working together as a local homeless forum to bring some of the struggles our tenants deal with to the attention of Nottingham city council. By working as part of the homeless forum we not only have built better links with agencies such as the day centres, but also have a louder voice as a collective to try and influence local housing policy as grassroots organizations. I also have the privileged position of being able to meet people in some of the most difficult times of their lives. It is so rewarding to see someone grow whilst living with us. This year we saw one determined young man achieve a step further on his journey towards building a new life for himself. A 21 year old who came to the UK as a refugee 3 years ago, he has been living in our property for the past 2 years. He has an ambitious life plan to eventually become a doctor. This March we had the pleasure of watching him move into his own council flat. The local church volunteers turned out in force to help him decorate the flat and we managed to apply for grants to help him carpet and furnish the property. A few weeks after he had moved in, he invited me round to take tea with him. I was amazed to see the transformation that had taken place from the scruffy flat we viewed together to the beautifully decorated home that he had made for himself. Success stories like this keep us as workers motivated in the times when we support tenants who lives continue to be chaotic. The Future in Nottingham Nottingham has an exciting few months ahead. We are currently planning for the opening of our seventh house this summer - a specialist house for mothers and babies. We are opening the house in partnership with Trent Vineyard church who already have a wealth of experience running homeless projects in Nottingham. We are very excited as this project has been highlighted to us over the past year as an unmet need from numerous sources. Conversations are also underway with another large church in Nottingham to see how we could partner with them due to the increasing number of homeless individuals. Alongside this we are also exploring a partnership with another agency to possibly set up housing for unaccompanied 16-18 year old asylum seekers in Nottingham as there is currently no specialist accommodation for them. We are excited that our projects are been led by the passion of the churches and agencies we work with to meet unmet needs in the homeless sector. Our tenants We now have so many stories of people giving up drugs, over-coming debt, crime and more. However one of my favourites was going to speak at a church in Nottingham, with whom we have a house for vulnerable women. At the end I was greeted by a lady I had not yet met but had heard about and been praying for. She was referred to us from prison. She came to our house, relapsed and went back into prison for another crime. While there we stayed in touch with her and she found out she was pregnant…with twins. We never thought social services would allow her to keep her children but she came off drugs and is still with her children and doing a great job with them. At our conference she took the floor and she told her story of how she had stabilised and that without our home and support and love from the local church she is not sure where she would have ended up! Our church volunteers We define success when our volunteers from churches, are out of their pews, engaging with the tenant and the tenant is feeling loved. We believe this element is what makes us unique and reaches the underlying cause of their poverty: a relational poverty. In Nottingham we have some amazing volunteers. We had the pleasure of training up a new group of volunteers from our partner church, St Nics, earlier this year to support a homeless family who were moving in with us. On the day the family arrived one lady from the group turned up to welcome them with a cake and a new home card. They then spent the next few weeks helping the family settle into the house. The family wanted to try and do something with the garden and did not know where to start. The volunteers brought round some plant pots, seeds and compost and with the mum and children showed them how to plant the seeds. They also helped the dad to get on top of cutting the lawn and weeding the flower beds. Now that the summer is here the flowers are blooming and the vegetables are beginning to grow. The volunteers have built up a really good bond with the family through the gardening and the children are so excited at watching what they have planted grow. Outcomes and Stats All our tenants have their own stories. Numbers are just a part of their success we celebrate. Here are some of our outcomes for the year in Nottingham: 26 housed during the year. 22 adults and 4 children. 10 moved on. 8 of those positively. 4 of those into social housing. 5 of those 26 housed had previously served a custodial sentence. 1 returned to custody, but only for a short period of time. We kept the house open for her and she is the mother in the story above. 9 of the those housed had a previous relationship with drugs / alcohol. 3 of those significantly improved, 4 remained about the same. 7 of our tenants won employment.