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Housing Advisers Programme - Better futures for vulnerable people, Somerset

Frustrated at the rising numbers of vulnerable people struggling to access homes and support that met their needs, the Somerset Strategic Housing Group (SSHG) decided we needed to crack the problem. But where to start?

What went in
  • Priority area addressed: Joining up housing, health and social care services around those in our community who are most vulnerable - rough sleepers and homeless people with complex needs/chaotic lifestyles.
  • Budget: £25,000
  • Other resource needed: time, expertise, passion and commitment of SSHG members, other council staff, commissioners and providers of support services, housing providers and Ark Consultancy.
  • Time taken to achieve outcomes: 10 months (during COVID-19) 
What came out
  • Deliverables: Improved working relationships, commitment, shared vision, action plan for Better Futures, enhanced partnership arrangements, more robust leadership and governance arrangements.
  • Difference made/ indication of success: Positive engagement and buy-in of all partners; solution focused conversations, pilot projects started eg drug and alcohol/mental health joint work with rough sleepers in emergency COVID-19 accommodation, expansion of the Tenancy Accreditation Scheme, new partners trialling Housing First approach; change to the Homefinder Somerset policy to reduce silting of short term supported housing; pilot work to explore demand and need among specific groups of vulnerable people; profile of rough sleeping and homelessness issues raised and now owned by Health and Wellbeing Board.
  • Statistics: Reduction in time to rehouse people who are bed blocking or ready to move-on from short term supported housing (66% and 45% respectively) and 30% reduction in the number of people waiting to ‘move-on’.
  • “It feels like we have moved on significantly”, Justin Roxburgh, CEO, ARC (provider of accommodation and support for homeless people in Somerset).


Mark Leeman

Strategy Specialist: Housing and Communities

Somerset West and Taunton Council

[email protected]