Housing

West Midlands scheme aims to break cycle of homelessness and unemployment

The pilot project from Prosperity Living hopes the additional support will break the cycle of homelessness that can come from losing a job

Job seekers at risk of homelessness will receive additional support in the West Midlands from a new project aiming to help people struggling with the dual threat of precarious housing and employment. 

Social housing and training providers have set up the pilot program in response to the growing adult unemployment rate as the government winds down its furlough scheme at the end of the month. 

Raheel Iqbal, director for Prosperity Living which will run the pilot project, told the Big Issue: “Anyone can go through the process of losing their job and going into homelessness. Then they can fall down into the cycle of drugs and alcohol. We’re trying to help push people into employment, so they don’t fall into this cycle.”

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According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK unemployment hit 4.5 per cent in the three months to August, the highest rate in three years. 

The Chancellor has announced a new support scheme which will subsidise wages, but unions have said the measures do not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable.

Prosperity Living provide accommodation for vulnerable individuals surviving on low income and benefits. The pilot will start in Birmingham, and aims to provide quality accommodation for those that have been made homeless or are at risk of becoming so, due to recently losing their job.

Lee, 37, who has been living with Prosperity for a couple of months, said he found out about the organisation through Facebook. 

He told The Big Issue Prosperity helped him “get back on his feet” with housing and employability support after hearing about them online.

He said: “I was sleeping in my car, it felt like I was at the bottom, and I had nowhere else to go. I was stuck in a rut, and I wanted to give up because I’d lost everything. 

“To have a roof over my head again has given me a boost to say that it isn’t as bad as I thought and there are other ways to move forward. It’s really helped.” 

Paul Ashton, 29, another resident who has been with the providers for three weeks, said he had already completed a programme to help him find work. 

“I had only been in with them for four or five days, and they had already set me up with an interview for Suited for Success, a scheme to help get people into further employment. 

“They asked me when I moved into the property what I wanted to do, and getting back into work was one of the first things I mentioned. They don’t get the credit they’re due for.”

Iqbal said residents will also be supported with employability and careers guidance such as mentoring and self-development activities, with the project adopting a “multi-agency” approach and working with local job centres and the council’s adult career guidance support services. 

Once people secure a job, they will then be assisted in finding affordable accommodation through a pool of private landlords and local authorities across the region. 

If the project is successful, Prosperity Living hopes to expand the initiative to their other properties across the West Midlands.

Iqbal added: “We know that homelessness is increasing, we know that rough sleeping is increasing. We want to help push people back into training courses and build up their CV so they can get back into employment instead of sleeping rough. It’s a preventative measure.”

Image: morebyless/Flickr

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