The Southwark Women's Assessment Hub is a new pilot project, going into its second years, delivered in partnership with Solace and LB Southwark Housing Solutions. The project recognises the intersection between then experience of trauma, VAWG, homelessness and involvement in the Criminal Justice System - compounded by unemployment, involvement in the Care system, substance use and mental and physical health difficulties.
The Women’s Assessment Hub is an intensive accommodation project, primarily focused on supporting women effected by rough sleeping, the criminal justice system, or in many cases, both. The Hub, a confidential location, accommodates three women at a time, with round the clock staffing and intensive support. Workers offer flexible support, ranging from practical tasks like sorting our benefits, accessing substance support or registering at the GP, life skills support like doing a grocery shop, cooking, budgeting or cleaning their rooms, as well as wellbeing support such as going out for a coffee, fitness classes, yoga or a walk around the park. The workers have a low caseload to give them the opportunity to focus on the residents, and we operate with flexibility, to support residents to achieve their goals and aspirations, rather than dictating a long list of things that they need to do. After their time at the Hub, usually between 8 – 12 weeks, the women are provided with accommodation, which is offered in partnership with LB Southwark Housing Options. Importantly, they retain the same worker, who then provides up to one year of resettlement support to support them in setting up and maintaining their tenancy, engaging with the local community, and addressing long term goals and aspirations, ranging from reconnecting with family and friends to starting education or employment. The Hub works with women typically considered ‘hard to engage’ by conventional services and uses flexible, assertive, trauma-informed outreach methods.
In addition to supporting at the Hub, and resettlement support for women who have moved on, the Hub is also staffed by a Specialist Housing Worker, who supports homeless women leaving prison, or rough sleeping, primarily with resolving barriers to their safe housing, including advocating with the Local Authority for housing assistance, supporting women to gather evidence of their housing need, assisting them in obtaining temporary accommodation from the Local Authority upon release, and sustaining their tenancies in the community. The worker also supports women to avoid further involvement with the criminal justice system, by supporting with claiming appropriate benefits, complying with Probation or Licence conditions, registering and engaging with healthcare providers, and engaging with local substance use teams. She is also the lead for referrals into the Hub, and the residents of the Hub are primarily women from her caseload.