Housing Justice has launched a new national good practice standard for Night Shelters, the Housing Justice Quality Mark at Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham.
The launch is part of the Housing Justice Roadshow, organised in partnership with Thrive Together in Birmingham and the Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum. The 12 June event brought together churches, charities, the local authority and others concerned about rising homelessness and housing need, both nationally and in Birmingham.
The roadshow is the second in a series of regional events led by Housing Justice, the national voice of Christian concern on homelessness and housing need.
The new HJQM sets out standards of good practice, including risk assessment, health and safety, training for volunteers, and partnership working. The HJQM will make sure that shelters operate safely and work in partnership with others to respond effectively to the needs of their homeless guests. The HJQM has already been piloted across several shelters.
Juli Thomson, Coordinator of Bradford Inn Churches said: “We welcomed the chance to be part of the Quality Mark pilot. As an established shelter with good practice we were keen to have outside support to review our policies and procedures. As a result of our measures adhering to the Quality Mark our central insurance policy premium has now been reduced. I would encourage other shelters to get involved in the scheme. It highlights the strengths of the excellent work we all do and supports areas where we feel we might need improvement.”
The HJQM is for both new and existing shelters. It is applicable for winter shelters and year round shelters, and those commissioned under Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) which open when the temperature drops below zero. It will be rolled out initially in England, but it is hoped to transfer the methodology to shelters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Gary Messenger. Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Homeless Link commented: “Church Night Shelters play an integral role in providing a safety net for homeless and vulnerable people. Many provide that additional vital link, especially when working closely with the local outreach teams and hostels and other supported housing projects, in helping people move away from homelessness completely. I am really excited about the new Housing Justice Night Shelter Quality Mark, which includes this and I would hope all shelters sign up to it”
Robert White of Westminster City Council added: “As a rough sleeping services commissioner, I see real value in using the Housing Justice Quality Mark to build bridges between local authorities and high quality, non-commissioned services”
As well as the launch of the HJQM the Birmingham Roadshow also gives opportunity for church activists and others to discuss housing need and homelessness more broadly. It also includes practical sessions on setting up a new night shelter or mentoring and befriending service; developing new affordable housing and more.
Housing Justice CEO Alison Gelder said: “Our roadshows are all about mobilising churches to tackle homelessness and housing need in their communities. And the new HJ Quality Mark provides a standard of excellence for churches and others in meeting those needs safely and effectively.” Paul Reily, Housing Justice Shelter Liaison Coordinator added: “The Quality Mark brings together the best in thinking and action in the Night Shelter Network. It can’t help but make a positive impact on the standards that guests, volunteers and the wider community represented through Statutory Agencies can expect.”