Supported Housing: Benefit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:02 pm on 20th July 2016.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash 3:02 pm, 20th July 2016

I want to make some progress.

Too often, we view one cost in isolation, and we often view one policy in isolation as well. Two Departments are working together on this policy, which I think is definitely the right approach, but we need to do even more of that joined-up policy making. Yesterday, NHS England published its implementation plan for the mental health five year forward view. The costs of mental ill health—to the individuals concerned, their families or carers, the NHS, and society more widely—are huge. It is not uncommon for mental health problems to result in homelessness, and a subsequent need for supported housing to put people back on track.

A great example of supported housing working well is the Canaan Trust, based in my constituency. It is a Christian charity which provides safe, secure and healthy supported accommodation for homeless males aged between 16 and 54, often giving them the fresh start in life that they never expected to have. It provides 24/7 support, with staff permanently on site. I have seen for myself how person-centred its support is, with a tailored approach for each individual. The team at the Canaan Trust makes everyone feel special, and that is probably a feeling that they have not experienced for a very long time.

Yesterday I chatted to the key man at the Canaan Trust, Kevin Curtis. His enthusiasm is infectious. Indeed, he managed to persuade quite a few of us—including me and the leader of the council—to sleep out in February and March to raise money for the charity, and I can tell the House that at two o’clock in the morning the pavements in Long Eaton get really hard and cold!

Kevin told me what happens when supported housing is not available. It is a revolving door. Vulnerable people, many of whom have addiction problems, are housed in sub-standard accommodation in communities where the temptation of drink and drugs is around every corner. Inevitably, eight out of 10 find themselves back on the streets within three to six months—and all because there is no one there to watch their backs, and to provide the extra guidance and support that makes all the difference. We fail as a society if we do not stop those people falling through the net, and I urge the new Minister to make that one of her top priorities.