Report of the Acting Strategic Director, Communities and Environment
The Committee were reminded of the sessions which had taken place so far, session 1 provided the Committee with a summary of the Gateshead VCS infrastructure and the Council support still available to the sector. The Committee also heard from Dr Jo Price, Chair of Trustees at the Comfrey Project who offered an insight into the work of her charity in Gateshead and how working with the Council is making a difference to the lives of Gateshead’s refugees and asylum seekers.
The second evidence gathering session included presentations from Brighten Ryton and Dunston Activity Centre, highlighting the excellent work that both organisations undertake in their respective localities and the Committee discussed how the organisations could work better with the Council and other partners.
In the third session the Committee heard from three key local funders, Community Foundation, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, The Ballinger Charitable Trust and the National Lottery Community Fund.
Today’s Committee would hear from Basis@Gateshead.
David Smith, Chief Executive Officer and Phil Conn, Head of Crisis Services presented to the Committee on the current position. Oasis Community Housing is a housing and homeless charity with a Christian ethos and was set up in Gateshead in 1984. The real focus of the charity is about the cause and consequence of homelessness, the work includes supported accommodation, crisis services, employability and domestic abuse support.
Basis is a broad and integrated, direct access offer for anyone in crisis in Gateshead. The is a commitment to replicate the model across the region and have a similar service in Sunderland. The most developed service though is Basis@Gateshead which has been running for 8 years. Basis is a direct access offer therefore anyone who arrives can receive a range of support which is focussed around them, including:
· Tea, toast
· Shower and laundry
· Benefits advice and advocacy, key workers
· Help to rent scheme
· Emergency accommodation, Housing First – Basis Beds
· Employability support and IT suite
· Domestic abuse support groups
· Clinical space opening in the next month
· Links to other services
Over the 8 years the service has been running a lot of lessons have been learnt, a psychologically informed environment has been created, a place where people feel welcome, a captive audience with brief window of opportunity to provide services to someone who may not just have one issue.
The model which has been created is innovative and offers a single service approach. A multi-disciplinary team is in place and whatever issues a person presents with they get the same offer, it is important that people are not being buffered about between different services and a consistent approach is also offered.
Current partners include Housing Options, GP Federation, Mental Health Services, Drug and Alcohol services and other third sector organisations. The service has buy in from Commissions, the Police, Job Centre Plus and it is hoped that this model can be replicated across the North East.
Basis is a great example of how the VCS can collaborate and integrate with public services to reach the most vulnerable in our communities in a more efficient and effective way. The organisation strongly believes that the project supports the Thrive agenda. Many of the individuals supported through the service hub will have multiple and complex needs such as poor physical health, mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions and will have spent time in the care system, prison system or both. Trust has been built within the homeless community over the years and Basis@Gateshead is now considered their safe space. Plans are to continue to work with cross sector partners to bring a range of services together under one roof for this community.
The service already has experience of working with other agencies such as the Gateshead Housing Company, Gateshead College, local churches and schools, charities such as changing lives, North East Counselling Service and others.
The service has succeeded in getting grant from Gateshead Innovation Fund to co-ordinate all of the work and pull everything together.
It is important that the voluntary sector and the Council find new innovative ways to work together to solve problems. It is important to continue magnetising good will to attract partners, businesses, churches and community groups, all who want to support those struggling in the Borough.
RESOLVED - That the information presented be noted.