Senior Cabinet Members and leading youth homelessness charities gathered at Brixton Town Hall earlier this month (November) for the launch of ‘Routes to Independence’, a pathway providing 200 new housing-related support services to accommodate young people facing homelessness.
The new programme was created following an internal review of existing services in 2020 which found significant elements of the council’s supported housing services for 16–25-year-olds did not meet their needs. This was because the previous services operated mostly out of large hostels in Camberwell and Stockwell and many young people felt they had been ‘warehoused’ by the council.
‘Routes to Independence’ has been designed in collaboration with young service users and expert housing organisations and charities. The wide range of services on offer will provide stability and support for young people in Lambeth to develop the skills they need to transition to independence. The services will be delivered within safe and secure residences designed to meet their varying needs.
Proactively tackling inequalities so that children and young people can have the best possible start in life and so that everyone can feel safe is a key ambition of Lambeth’s Borough Plan.
Routes to Independence focuses on four areas:
• Prevention of homelessness
• Assessment of needs
• Housing-related support
• Move on and support
One of the services included in the pathway is a new housing programme for young men struggling with their mental health. The residents have access to a wide range of individual and group therapeutic interventions and have regular contact with dedicated professionals to support them in their wellbeing along their housing journey. You can learn more about the service by watching this video.
Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, said: “I was lucky enough to visit this new nine-bed service based in a beautiful, homely property and was so impressed by the skills and passion of the staff members I met. It’s a relaxing place that young people can call home while feeling safe and secure.”
The mental health service is delivered by landlord and support provider Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association (MTVH) whose Chief Executive, Geeta Nanda OBE, said: “MTVH are delighted to work with Lambeth Council to develop new services for young people in the borough. Our new supported housing service in Lambeth is a significant investment and demonstration of our commitment to helping young people achieve their full potential through integrated, person-centred support in a high-quality environment.”
Another service soon to open its doors is an innovative pilot devoted to young men at most risk of becoming involved in youth violence, gang related activities and those vulnerable to criminal exploitation. This pilot scheme has received considerable support from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime along with the Ministry of Justice and is located outside the borough to help make the vulnerable residents safe and support them away from harmful lifestyles and influences.
Each building will have dedicated staff to provide help and guidance with work skills, substance misuse and housing management as well as clinical psychological support. The service will be delivered by a consortium of providers, Depaul UK. MAC-UK, St Giles’ Trust and Juvenis.
Councillor Kay said: “This is a wraparound service that’s been designed for, and with, these young people who are facing very serious challenges in their lives. This is an important initiative that is taking a fresh approach to a longstanding issue.”
The aim of the project is to cut the numbers of arrests, court appearances and prison sentences among those taking part, decrease the number of serious youth violence-related incidents in the borough and improve the supported young people’s ability to manage their own mental health and safety.
Looking ahead, Cllr Kay is optimistic about the impact of this pilot scheme both in Lambeth and beyond: “If this service is successful, the knowledge and experience gained here will be shared around the country. We hope that what we are pioneering here could provide a model for tackling violence in disadvantaged communities.”
Cllr Kay was joined in her commendation of the new pathway’s services by Cllr Ben Kind, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, who said: “Our ambition for Lambeth as a child-friendly borough is clear: we strive to become a place where the voices, needs, and priorities of our children and young people are not just heard, but are woven into the very fabric of our policies, services, and decisions. Every child should be able grow to up in an environment where they feel safe and secure, have access to good quality services, and where their voice is heard and matters.
“We have a bold and dynamic vision for our young people to thrive and grow into confident adults through the recognition that prevention and early intervention are better than a reactive response.
“This joint housing and children’s social care housing-related support pathway embodies this approach, showing the positive difference that can be made for our young people through local investment and listening to our young people.”
If you are a young person experiencing homelessness or threatened with homelessness, you should contact the Housing Advice Team using the online form found here or call: 020 7926 4200.
If you are a 16-25 year old Child Looked After or Care Leaver with a housing need, information regarding housing and independent living can be found here.
Alternatively, you can speak to your Social Worker or Personal Advisor to request a referral to the Routes to Independence Pathway.