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NIFHA | News | Charities call on MLAs to…
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Charities call on MLAs to ‘Keep on Supporting People’

Published on: 23 September, 2014

A coalition of charities and voluntary organisations has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to strengthen a programme that annually provides vital support to help more than 26,000 people in Northern Ireland live as independently as possible.

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To protect Supporting People and to strengthen the campaign, find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SupportingPeopleNI and use the hashtag #SupportingPeople on twitter.

The Supporting People programme, which provides some 882 housing related support services across Northern Ireland, equips vulnerable people to live independently and helps prevent problems that can result in hospitalisation, institutional care or homelessness.

Introduced in 2003 across the UK, the programme has dramatically improved the services available to a range of groups including older people, people with learning disabilities, and homeless people. Research has demonstrated that it is an ‘invest to save’ programme delivering net financial benefits by reducing demand on health, criminal justice and other public services.

However, funding for Supporting People schemes has now been frozen for seven years, a ‘real terms’ cut of over 20%. Now campaigners, representing the 106 Supporting People providers, have gathered at Stormont to seek assurances on the programme’s future. Supporting People is currently subject to a government review, and campaigners are also concerned about the potential impact of NI Executive spending cuts on the Programme.

Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations warned that the future of services relied on by thousands of people requires Supporting People to be strengthened as dedicated programme of housing support, and properly funded by the NI Executive:

“Supporting People has been an immense success, enabling thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible. Service providers are committed to working with government in its review, but uncertainty on the programme’s future and a prolonged funding squeeze threatens the quality and viability of Supporting People services.

“Supporting People must be properly resourced to remain effective and continue delivering strongly for Northern Ireland. Inflationary uplifts are vital in the short-term, and we call on the NI Executive to recognise Supporting People’s value and commit to strengthening it as a dedicated programme of housing support.”

Ricky Rowledge, Director of Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland (CHNI), said:

“The quality of life for thousands of vulnerable people is heavily dependent on Supporting People. Without strong measures in place to protect services, there is a distinct danger that those in most need may lose out.

“The programme has been frozen for seven years which represents a cut in real terms by 20 per cent. Research on delivery in Great Britain confirms that Supporting People is worth every penny and saving taxpayers millions through avoidance of costly hospital admissions and reliance on other services. We cannot afford to risk the future of a programme that makes such a significant social and financial impact.”

Ends

For all media queries or interviews, please contact Stephen McGrath/Johnny Stewart on

028 9034 7300 or mobile 079 8947 5561 or email smcgrath@webershandwick.com / Jstewart@webershandwick.com

 

Notes to Editors

 

  • The ‘Let’s Keep on Supporting People’ campaign is supported by a broad coalition of charities and voluntary organisations. These include the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), Council for the Homeless NI (CHNI); the Cedar Foundation; Depaul Ireland; Ark Housing; First Housing; Fold Housing Association; Helm Housing; Mencap; NIACRO; Niamh; the Simon Community and Ulidia Housing Association.


What does the Supporting People Programme do?

Introduced in 2003 across the UK, Supporting People equips 26,000 vulnerable people in Northern Ireland to live independently and with dignity in the community. Supporting People funding also underpins most of the care and support services provided by local housing associations and their wide range of charitable and statutory partners.

Supporting People funds housing related support services that a landlord (such as a housing association for example) or other provider such as a voluntary organisation can provide. Support means advice and help to make it easier for vulnerable people to maintain their independence in their home or to develop the skills to do so.

People can receive support in a hostel or in sheltered housing or other type of supported living. Support can also be provided to people in their own homes through floating support services. This can include:

  • someone to support people to manage their money and pay their bills;
  • a warden or scheme manager who is there in case people need help;
  • someone who helps people to live independently;
  • someone who helps people learn how to follow the rules in their tenancy agreement; and
  • someone who provides advice or assistance on a range of housing related matters.

Supporting people provides support to the following client groups:

Client Group Percentage Spend (%) Number of Units
Homeless People

21.4

2,862

People with a Learning Disability

21.3

1,365

People with Mental Health issues

16.8

1,606

Older people

14.3

7,400

Women at risk of Domestic Violence

6.5

1,191

Young people (leaving care or homeless)

5.1

710

Alcohol/substance dependency

5.5

359

Physical or sensory disability

4.2

557

Offenders or People at risk of Offending

4.0

243

Other Vulnerable People

0.9

161

The following table shows a breakdown for each NIHE area in 2013/14:

NIHE Area Number of Schemes Value
Antrim 20 sheltered and supported housing schemes and a small number of floating support services

£1.62 million

Ards 27 sheltered and supported housing schemes, and four floating support services

£1.043 million

Armagh 17 sheltered and supported housing schemes and three floating support services

£1.874 million

Ballymena 27 sheltered and supported housing schemes and three floating support services

£2.6 million

Ballymoney 14 sheltered and supported housing schemes and one floating support service

£658k

Banbridge 17 sheltered and supported housing schemes and one floating support service

£925k

Belfast 206 sheltered and supported housing schemes and 20 floating support services

£20.6 million

Carrickfergus 23 sheltered and supported housing schemes

£1.02 million

Castlereagh 30 sheltered and supported housing schemes

£1.4 million

Coleraine 27 sheltered and supported housing schemes and three floating support services

£2.31 million

Cookstown nine sheltered and supported housing schemes and one floating support service

£751k

Craigavon 31 sheltered and supported housing schemes and one locally based floating support service

£2.219 million

Derry/Londonderry 59 sheltered and supported housing schemes and nine floating support services

£7.473 million

Down 27 sheltered and supported housing schemes, and four floating support services

£2.356 million

Dungannon and South Tyrone 11 sheltered and supported housing schemes and 2 floating support services

£902k

Fermanagh 19 sheltered and supported housing schemes and six floating support services

£1.567 million

Larne 13 sheltered and supported housing schemes

£660k

Limavady eight sheltered and supported housing schemes

£294k

Lisburn 40 sheltered and supported housing schemes and a floating support service

£2.374 million

Magherafelt 13 sheltered and supported housing schemes and a small number floating support services

£950k

Moyle nine sheltered and supported housing schemes and one floating support service

£294k

Newry and Mourne 32 sheltered and supported housing schemes and three floating support services

£3.114 million

Newtownabbey 29 sheltered and supported housing schemes and a small number of floating support services

£1 million

North Down 47 sheltered and supported housing schemes, and four floating support services

£4.204 million

Omagh 24 sheltered and supported housing schemes and three floating support services

£2.617 million

Strabane 12 sheltered and supported housing schemes and no floating support services

£441k

 

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