Spelthorne Rentstart – Re-building lives in our community
The homeless and vulnerably housed are especially susceptible to catching the coronavirus. That is why, during this pandemic, our service – based in Staines – has become more important than ever before. Set up in 1997 to assist single people aged 18+ and childless couples on low incomes to access accommodation in the private rented sector, our small charity has supported 1,000+ people in need since then (to January 2021).
Since the start of the coronavirus, referrals from our partner agencies have risen 30%, as concerns escalated for the safety of the vulnerable clients with whom we work. Despite the hugely challenging impact on our operation, we are proud that we have been able to adapt quickly and flexibly to the new rules. Vitally, Spelthorne Rentstart staff and volunteers have matched our service offer to meet the new demand. The last quarter of 2020 was our busiest across the previous three years.
Even when members of our client group don’t fall into the shielding category, they are very ‘high risk’: the majority of rough sleepers suffer from pre-existing conditions. They are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems, have less access to face masks and hygiene products, and have nowhere to wash their hands. In many cases, they don’t have ’phones to call for help, or cars to transport themselves to the hospital. Those in shared emergency accommodation would struggle to self-isolate, if required to do so.
In addition, there is a complex range of physical, mental and structural issues faced by that the homeless. As one example, soup kitchens and day centres are closing with no notice; this reduces normal community interaction and makes the homeless more isolated than ever before, since many have no outside relationships.
Homelessness often remains hidden in a suburban borough like Spelthorne, where there are people in desperate need of help. As the only private rented access scheme in Spelthorne, the key relationships we have built with local landlords, estate agents, Spelthorne Borough Council, Citizens Advice, housing associations, hostels and other charities is essential to our success and ensures the best possible outcome for our clients. Spelthorne Borough Council recognises our work with those at risk across the local community and has part-funded the charity since the start. In addition, we are supported by the Big Lottery Fund, local churches and Rotary Clubs, the probation service, charitable trusts and many other organisations – but we also need to fund raise to sustain the charity.
Sudden catastrophic change can strike anyone, at any time. If you fall outside of the welfare safety net, there is often nowhere else to turn. As well as helping our clients to get a roof over their heads, Spelthorne Rentstart tries to ensure tenants have the best chance of maintaining a trouble-free tenancy by offering ongoing tenancy support services for the duration of the lease.
You can find more information at: http://www.spelthornerentstart.org.uk Or to refer, donate, volunteer or become a Trustee, please contact us on:
Tel: 01784 446 422 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Wood- Dow DL