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NIFHA | Policy | Supporting People Campaign | Supporting People to Flourish…

Supporting People to Flourish Conference

A housing programme proven to secure substantial savings for the public purse will struggle to continue supporting vulnerable people locally without adequate and certain funding, the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) has warned.

SP Conference

The message comes in the wake of a special conference held on 17 June, at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, that considered the effectiveness and future of the Supporting People Programme and the impact of policy reforms on vital care and support services.

Introduced in 2003 across the UK, the Supporting People programme enables 17,000 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.

In 2009, a report produced by Capgemini for the UK Government found that Supporting People was a successful ‘invest to save’ programme providing a multi-million pound net benefit for the public purse.

Cameron Watt, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations said:

“Supporting People has been an immense success, enabling thousands of people to sustain their accommodation and live with as much independence as possible. Research in Great Britain on the housing support services provided by Supporting People confirms the programme saves taxpayers many millions more than it costs, such as through the avoidance of costly hospital admissions.

“Service providers are committed to working with government partners to further strengthen and reform Supporting People. However for the last seven years funding for Supporting People schemes has been frozen and this is now impacting on the quality and viability of many services.

“Supporting People must be properly funded if it is to continue effectively meeting the needs of many of our most vulnerable citizens. In the short-term, an uplift in funding to reflect higher staffing and other costs is essential. Beyond 2015-16, the NI Executive must retain Supporting People as an adequately funded, dedicated housing programme. As well as helping vulnerable people to flourish and providing net savings to government, it is vital in enabling the vision of ‘Transforming Your Care’ to be fulfilled. Supporting People will help facilitate the home becoming the hub of care and support, reducing pressure on acute hospital services.”

According to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing Related Support Strategy 2012-2015’, the Supported People Programme provides more than 800 services and supported over 17,000 vulnerable people at any time in Northern Ireland.

The programme is delivered via 106 organisations, the majority of whom are voluntary and community organisations, ranging from small providers who deliver a single service to larger providers of up to 20 services. Other service providers include Housing Associations, Health and Social Care Trusts and the Northern Ireland


Speaker profiles, video comments and presentations can be found in the following sub-sections:

Cameron Watt, NIFHA

Cameron Watt, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA)

Cameron Watt is the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA). Since taking up the role in September 2012, Cameron has been lobbying to strengthen government policy and funding to support Northern Ireland’s 25 housing associations in delivering housing, care and support.

Cameron previously he led a policy team at the National Housing Federation, the voice of affordable housing in England. Cameron also worked in the Renewing One Nation team at Conservative Central Office, helped Iain Duncan Smith establish the Centre for Social Justice, and as its Deputy Director contributed significantly to its award-winning publication Breakthrough Britain.

Stephen Martin, DSD

Stephen Martin, Deputy Director, Department for Social Development

Stephen Martin has worked on housing policy for six of the last seven years.  Since
October 2013, he has been Deputy Director responsible for Housing Policy Delivery within DSD.

Access Stephen’s presentation in full here.

Phil Saunders, SITRA

Phil Saunders, Consultant, SITRA

Phil is Director of his own independent consultancy, based near Axbridge in Somerset.

Phil has extensive experience of social enterprises and partnership working.

A particular interest of Phil’s is better integration of services across health, social care and housing. He has advised a London Borough and their NHS partners on independent living provision for people with mental health problems. He has also carried out
research into the costs and benefits of jointly commissioned services aimed at supporting people to remain in their own homes, in Bath & North East Somerset. He was author of a published study on ‘Prevention & Personalisation’ in the Yorkshire & Humber region.

Access Phil’s presentation in full here.

Tony Ruddy, Ark

Tony Ruddy, Chief Executive, Ark Housing

Tony Ruddy has 32 years’ experience working in housing, having begun his career in the Housing Executive in 1980. He is a fellow of the CIH and served on its National Council (2003-2011) and also at local level in Northern Ireland where he was education and training officer, Vice Chair and Chairman. Tony is also a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management. He joined Ark Housing as its Director in September 2002 and was appointed Chief Executive in January 2008.

Access Tony’s presentation in full here.

Ricky Rowledge, CHNI

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

As Director since 1997, Ricky is responsible for CHNI’s strategic direction, plans and programmes. Qualified as a social worker, she had her first experience of working with homeless people while on placement with a night shelter in Belfast.  Since then, Ricky has had a continuing interest in highlighting the need for adequate resources for the sector and a better understanding of the problems of homelessness.

She currently sits on a number of policy and practice working groups including the PSI working group on homelessness. Ricky is a board member of NIACRO, Chair of the Committee Representing Independent Supporting People Providers (CRISPP) and Secretary of the Housing Policy Forum. Ricky is also the NI representative for FEANTSA, and co-facilitates the UK Homelessness Liaison Group.

Access Ricky’s presentation in full here.

Kerry Anthony, DePaul Ireland

Kerry Anthony MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Depaul Ireland

Kerry Anthony has worked for Depaul Ireland since 2005 as the Director of Services and since 2007 as the Chief Executive.

She has been working in the field of homelessness for 13 years in a variety of settings and roles, in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast.

She holds a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Voluntary Sector Management.

Kerry is particularly interested in how to use leadership roles to ensure that there is continued innovation in service provision and to address and break the cycle of social exclusion.

At 35, Kerry was made an MBE in the 2010 Queens New Years Honours list.

Access Kerry’s presentation in full here.

Pamela McCreedy, TYC Director

Pamela McCreedy, TYC Director, Health & Social Care Board

Pamela is the Director of Transforming Your Care at the Health and Social Care Board, where she is leading a programme of work to develop Northern Ireland’s health and social care services in line with the recommendations set out in the  Transforming Your Care report, published in December 2011.  The recommendations set out a model of care which will underpin and shape safe, quality and sustainable services into the future.

Before taking up this post, Pamela was the Project Lead in the Transforming Your Care Review Team and worked at the South Eastern HSC Trust, with responsibility for Performance Improvement, Commissioning and Information Management.  Prior to joining the South Eastern HSC Trust in 2009, she was the Director of Public Sector Advisory in KPMG, with specific responsibility for health. She trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and since 1998 specialised in public sector audit and advisory.

Access Pamela’s presentation in full here.

Fiona McAnespie, Fold

Fiona McAnespie, Director of Care Services, Fold Housing Association

Fiona joined Fold in September 2010, with over 20 years experience in managing and developing services for all client groups but for the past 15 years her primary focus has been, with older people and people with dementia.

Prior to joining Fold Fiona worked for the South Eastern Trust where she managed statutory residential care, day care, domiciliary care and hospital social work. Fiona was part of the review team on the modernisation of residential and domiciliary in the South Eastern trust.

Chris Alexander, Triangle

Chris Alexander, Chief Executive, Triangle Housing Association
Chris joined Triangle Housing Association in 1991 having previously worked in social housing development in England. Chris has managed a series of projects mainly for special needs clients over those years and in 2007 took overall management responsibility as Chief Executive Officer.

Access Chris’ presentation in full here.

Brian O'Kane, NIHE

Brian O’Kane, Assistant Director, Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)

Brian has over 25 years experience working in the Housing and Homelessness Sector.  He joined the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in 1992 as a Graduate Trainee, and worked in a number of areas before taking on the challenge of Supporting People.  He has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the Supporting People Programme since its inception in 2003 during which time the sector has grown significantly.  He continues to lead out the SP agenda in his current role of Acting
Assistant Director.

Access Brian’s presentation in full here.


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