Our vision is a Cheltenham without homelessness or the risk of homelessness; a Cheltenham where everyone lives in suitable and sustainable accommodation. Our mission is to improve the lives of members of our community, especially those who have disabilities, long term health conditions, mental health challenges, substance misuse issues and who are older people by supporting their ability to make and maintain a home for themselves.
We are currently funded through a mixture of local and national trusts and statutory organisations and have reserves that we can draw upon if needed. It costs about £100,000 a year to run the centre and our services. The majority of our funding comes from charitable trusts. CHAC employs three part time members of staff to provide housing advice to clients.
How does CHAC help?
Each client that approaches us for a service is different and we ensure that we provide bespoke advice to each case. It is difficult to describe “a typical” client but they usually fall within one of three categories:
- People who are homeless or seeking alternative accommodation – this may mean that they are street homeless, sofa surfing, living in temporary accommodation or living in inadequate or inappropriate accommodation. We will undertake a full assessment of their needs and provide a personalised plan of how we can assist them. We will ensure that they are provided with all their options, choices and rights and will support them throughout the whole process to ensure that they can resolve their accommodation need.
- People who are threatened with Homelessness – clients may come to us as they are threatened with becoming homeless and we try to prevent this where we can. This may arise for a variety of reasons but may include issues such as getting into rent arrears. We will ensure that all their housing benefit entitlements are correct and will request backdates where appropriate. We will liaise with Landlords and ensure that tenants’ rights are upheld and advise on any court paperwork received.
- Improving people’s housing conditions – this can include a variety of issues such as finding grants to purchase essential household goods such as cookers and beds. Or helping to increase people’s banding priority with the Local Authority to access homes that better meet their needs. We will also assist with providing advice and support with people who are experiencing disrepair issues or neighbour nuisance.
Paul was on the verge of being evicted from his flat and living on the streets when he was referred to us. He is an adult with mental health issues and a history of alcohol dependency. Under duress, he had been letting rough sleepers and people with alcohol issues into his privately rented flat. He was unable to control their behaviour and they started to cause difficulties with other tenants. Paul’s landlord had given him a week’s notice and he saw no choice but sleeping rough. We advised Paul that the short notice period was illegal and referred him to the Housing Enforcement Team at the Council. They negotiated a longer notice period during which time we helped Paul secure a place with a supported housing provider.
When his support worker felt he was ready to return to independent living we provided training to give him the life skills required to maintain a tenancy; his confidence grew and he was able to reflect on and share his past experiences. With our support, Paul secured a one bedroom flat and we provided furniture and essential household goods through making grant applications. Paul continues to successfully manage his tenancy free from the threat of homelessness and is better able to engage with mental health and alcohol dependency services.
Quote from Current Funders:
National Benevolent Charity.
The Trustees are aware of the excellent work that you do to help reduce homelessness and improve housing conditions in Cheltenham for the most vulnerable. They were really interested to hear through your recent application of the co-ordination and strategic work you are involved with to tackle furniture poverty across the Borough as well as the training you are providing through your life-skill and workshop programme. As last time they were really impressed with all that you achieve as a small team, managing strategic plans and fundraising as well as delivery of the service, they can also see that you have a huge amount of experience between yourselves as well as being very forward thinking. They were also really impressed with how you work collaboratively with local organisations and how you are aiming to diversify your funding through “selling” training and workshops. We know that with the cost-of-living crisis the risk of homelessness and poor housing conditions is only ging to get worse and there is an increase in working poverty, so our Borad are very happy to be able to continue to fund over the next couple of years, to support you to continue and develop your work, providing advice, help and information to empower and enable people to resolve housing need and improve life chances.” National Benevolent Charity.