People standing and smiling at the camera while holding award

We’ve won ‘Best Support / Care Innovation’ at the first ever Housing Digital Innovation Awards. These awards celebrate the very best innovations in the sector, from housing associations to consultancies.

Published: 11/02/2022

Since 2020, we’ve been improving the way we deliver support for people who have experienced trauma, to help them recover from the past and take control of their future.

It all started when we secured funding from Essex County Council to trial a new support model in one of our supported housing schemes for young people with complex needs who had experienced homelessness.

The new approach was called ‘trauma-informed support’. It involved shifting our mindset from a focus on outcomes to an emphasis on building trust and helping our residents engage with support at their own pace.

Our colleagues did an experimental training course and learned to change the way they engaged with our residents. We built better relationships with our residents, and made support meetings more customer-led. We adapted our paperwork to focus on our residents’ strengths, and altered the language we used to describe and better understand negative behaviours as ‘distressed’ instead of ‘challenging’.

We also made the service more homely, so that our residents would see it as a place of physical and psychological safety.

The pilot improved life for everyone in the scheme. The number of young people entering a tenancy at risk process fell by 80% between 2019 and 2020, increasing their chance of a successful move-on. High-risk incidents fell by 25% and red alerts dropped by 33%, giving us more time to deliver support, rather than react to conflict.

Following the success of the pilot, this model has been rolled out in our other support services. It has had a huge part to play in our work to help people gain the confidence and skills to live a better, more independent life.

Jude Cross, Head of our Homelessness & Transitional Service, said: “Trauma-informed support enables us to improve the lives of our residents, boost our support workers’ morale, and help the local authorities and partners that commission us to deliver their priorities. I’m really excited to see how it keeps improving life for all our Care and Support residents and am thankful to Essex County Council for their initial funding and support.” 

Nicci Smith, Support Worker in our Young People’s Service, said: “Working in a trauma-informed way has enabled me to understand how knowing, listening to, and responding to our residents brings reward, results and job satisfaction.”

Jess, one of our customers who took part in the pilot, said: “I have always felt safe and secure [here], which is something I never had as a young child. If I’ve learnt anything, it’s: deal with your past, be patient in the now and look forward to the future… and I can trust people again.”

Finally, Clare Burrell, Head of Strategic Commissioning and Policy at Essex County Council, said: “The strength of the [pilot’s] impact has enabled us to embed this approach across our services that we commission for vulnerable young people.”

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