Housing organisations work as a key player alongside others to improve the mental health and wellbeing of families, children and young people. Their aim is to identify and resolve the root causes of people’s difficulties, to fill gaps in development and to provide appropriate solutions in a timely way, to resolve problems people are facing and reduce the likelihood of difficulties in the future.
Their work would be strengthened if relevant frontline health partners were to be consistently involved, and help develop the work of existing local partnerships.
Housing organisations run community or neighbourhood centres through which their residents and others living in the community can access a wide range of advice, activities and services. They are also behind many of the community events, such as fun days, that take place in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
These centres and events provide a place for relationships of trust to be built and, over time, for assistance to be sought to address issues that come to the surface. While the starting point is usually a specific service that the individual is drawing on, the interactions that take place in these community centres and at events often lead to people accessing other relevant forms of support. They provide opportunities for people to:
- get advice on debt, budgeting and benefits that can help them to avoid eviction from their home
- get access to training opportunities and support into paid employment
- seek help relating to personal or family issues
- seek support in instances of domestic violence
- access to relevant mental health services
- access sexual health services
- get help with a wide range of health-related matters
This is often the start of building a relationship of trust with the individual or family through which other issues come to the surface and can be addressed.
Housing organisations play key roles in multi-agency partnerships (involving local authorities’ children’s and adult’s services, the police, third sector providers and others) to assist struggling families and improve children’s wellbeing.
Typically, they make sure that families have a single key-worker who works with the family to explore and get to the heart of the difficulties they are having and who finds ways of helping them to unravel and address the issues. Emotional support is usually offered, sometimes in the form of counselling, alongside other services with the key-worker being the link between the range of services and the family. The aim is to bring stability to the situation, to ensure the children are going to school, attending health appointments and being well looked after, so that all family members can thrive. Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the likelihood of the problems being repeated in the next generation.
Some housing organisations actively support vulnerable young people to make the transition into adulthood. These include young people who have been brought up in the care system or who have difficult family backgrounds and often require forms of support that enable them to develop emotionally, develop resilience and learn essential life-skills.
Some of the ways housing organisations do this include:
- citizenship classes in local schools, helping young people to understand what life as an adult is like, how to take responsibility for running a home, for example
- outreach to build relationships with young people who have disengaged and over time to reconnect them with school, local services and activities
- providing supported accommodation for young people in an environment that supports them to make their way in the world eg. St Basils www.stbasils.org.uk
- sexual health services such as chlamydia testing
- support for young people with alcohol and drug problems or who are vulnerable to child sexual exploitation