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A first for Housing First in Wales

Housing minister Julie James announced the first scheme in Wales to be awarded Housing First Wales accreditation at a ceremony on Thursday morning.

Conwy and Denbighshire Housing First will receive the accreditation from the minister during a web event hosted by Cymorth Cymru. The Housing First project works across the two counties, which work in strong partnership to deliver the right support to people who need it, wherever they happen to be.

The internationally acclaimed Housing First model, praised for its effectiveness, has become a focus of Welsh Government homelessness policy over the past few years, with ‘trailblazer’ funding leading to the establishment of several Housing First schemes across Wales.

Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach that moves people experiencing homelessness into independent, permanent housing as quickly as possible – rather than waiting for them to be ‘housing ready’. Choice and control, as well as strengths based, multi-agency support is key.

Aimed at people who have been sleeping rough with complex or co-occurring mental health and substance misuse issues, international evidence suggests that 80% of people maintain their tenancies.

Central to the success of the model is maintaining fidelity to the Housing First principles, which have been developed internationally and adapted specifically for the Welsh context.

As a result, Cymorth Cymru, which runs the Housing First Network in Wales, has developed the UK’s first accreditation process. Funded by the Welsh Government, this consists of a robust, in-depth process, including a thorough review of the scheme’s policies and interviews with staff, Housing First tenants and other stakeholders. The findings are considered by a panel of independent experts who decide whether to award the accreditation.

Julie James said:

‘The coronavirus has reminded us all of the fundamental importance of good-quality affordable housing, a safe and secure home. Housing First is an effective way to support individuals with the most complex needs into long term, sustainable housing.

‘I congratulate Conwy and Denbighshire Housing First, who have worked tremendously hard to develop and deliver a Housing First project that adheres to every key principle.  My thanks also go to the Network and Cymorth for developing an accreditation mechanism. It will be an invaluable tool to help maintain standards and fidelity to the Housing First model during this uncertain period.”

Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru said:

‘Housing First is critical to our ambitions to end homelessness in Wales and we have been heartened to see the development of several schemes across Wales. International evidence illustrates the effectiveness of this model, but we know that its success is dependent on adherence to the principles. We’re really proud to have developed this accreditation process with partners in the Housing First Wales Network and delighted to announce that the Conwy and Denbighshire Housing First scheme is the first to receive it. We look forward to supporting more organisations through the accreditation this year.’

Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, Conwy County Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and regulatory, said:

‘I’m delighted that Housing First has been recognised in this way. It’s a testament to the hard work of the team across Conwy and Denbighshire who have been involved in this innovative project. The scheme provides valuable additional help to those people with complex needs who are experiencing long-term homelessness.”

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for well-being and independence, said:  

‘I’d like to congratulate the team for all their hard work in being recognised with Housing First Welsh Government accreditation.

‘Housing First houses people experiencing homelessness with high needs in their own, settled homes as quickly as possible and provides the support they need, at their own pace, for as long as they need it, to sustain their tenancy.

‘Providing additional support to those residents who are experiencing long-term homelessness is making a real difference in our communities.’


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