The Temporary Accommodation and Move On Team
The Temporary Accommodation and Move On Team provides Temporary Accommodation for homeless households including singles, couples and families. We are responsible for organising emergency accommodation placements and pathways into more suitable temporary accommodation and housing solutions. This includes delivering property and tenancy management and offering ongoing housing advice and assistance to people who are temporarily accommodated, ensuring that properties are complaint, customers support needs are met and that there is an active move on plan in place which would bring the Council’s statutory accommodation duty to an end as quickly as possible. Every day is different and whilst the work is very fast paced with tight deadlines, it is also very rewarding when we see how our cases outlooks change once given a place to stay and find some stability.
The team have worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to ensure that as many homeless households as possible have been able to follow the government guidelines to keep themselves safe. This has been quite an epic task, particularly as there was a requirement to move all clinically vulnerable people out of accommodation with shared facilities into self-contained accommodation and to work with colleagues to help get all Rough Sleepers in to accommodation, then work with all these people to find longer term solutions. This has included partnership working with various other agencies to ensure that the needs of every household have been met as well as working with Registered Social Housing Providers, Private Rented Sector Landlords and providers of supported accommodation to enable people to become housed.
The work done in the team varies but is generally split into three: Accommodation, Casework and Admin, there is a need to work together and be flexible and record everything.
Natasha Manley changed role to Accommodation Solutions Manager six months before the pandemic hit and heavily involved in the TA response to Covid 19 as part of Housing Options Senior Leadership Team.
Sara Frost had been in post as Temporary Accommodation & Move On Team Manager for three months and we were carrying vacant positions when we went into lockdown and together we are re-building a team and moving forwards with new ways of working.
We are currently recruiting additional staff to cope with the increased volumes of cases in TA and would like to thank colleagues in other Teams within Cornwall Housing for their ongoing moral and practical support. In particular Tiffen Balley who has a substantive post in the team but is currently seconded to the Rough Sleeper service but still gives us 1 day a week to assist with Financial Admin to make sure that the suppliers of accommodation and services are paid.
Our Move On Officers are Tabitha Wilkins and Julie Blewitt – working with cases already in TA, paying particular attention to reviewing housing needs and making final offers of accommodation to resolve homelessness.
Our Accommodation Officers are Karen Nash, Kieren Jordan, Ron Webb and Clair Davis – each manage a patch of Private Sector Leased and owned stock used as ‘second stage’ Temporary Accommodation which includes all aspects of lettings and void management and also work on a rota to respond to requests to place ‘homeless tonight’ cases in to emergency accommodation.
Our Admin Officers are Kyra Bull and Terri Winchester whom are mainly responsible for all things admin, including extending EA placements, applying for Housing Benefit on behalf of all the cases in EA, call handling and all the paperwork and record keeping for all placements.
We would not have got through the last 8 months without a sense of humour, good work ethics, team players and a ‘can do’ approach. In addition to the work involved in the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme we have welcomed new staff into the team which has involved socially distanced team building in the office, e-learning and on the job training over MS Teams.
The way we work has not really changed as we have always been mobile workers. A normal day in the TA Team involves a mixture of working from home, working at the office and going out on the frontline to meet customers and suppliers. Added to our bow now is that we are trained Covid Marshalls for the office and are even more Health and Safety aware than we were before. There is a large volume of administration involved to enable data sets to be produced on a weekly basis. With effect from the beginning of the new financial year we have also implemented a new Dynamic Purchasing System for procuring emergency accommodation.
We have been enthused by change and the support of colleagues across Cornwall Housing and are looking forward to working with the business improvement team to find more efficient ways of working so that we can make best use of our time.