London housing association homeless support service shortlisted for national care award after delivering dramatic results for homeless people with mental health problems
Published by Susan Littlemore for Riverside in Care and Support and also in Health, Housing
London housing association, Riverside-ECHG, which specialises in working with homeless people with mental health problems, has been shortlisted for a major national care award.
LaingBuisson, one of the country’s leading healthcare organisations, has recognised the work that Riverside’s Support Link Service (SLS) has done to help homeless people by shortlisting the scheme in its Independent Specialist Care Awards.
Riverside’s SLS has developed a personalised service within its support for some its most vulnerable London clients, including homeless people with mental health problems.
The SLS consists of Riverside team members and a pool of flexible Specialist Activity Workers, made up from a range of professions from counsellors to music teachers. The team works hand-in-hand with vulnerable clients, assessing their needs and offering tailored support packages.
The support choices enable clients to choose their own flexible workers. They also have access to befrienders who accompany them on social outings, which is particularly beneficial to homeless people who may suffer from mental health issues after being isolated for an extended period of time.
The innovative initiative is open to Riverside hostel and sheltered scheme residents across London. The team works on the basis that each client is the expert on their own needs and has established creative support options working in partnership with clients.
The SLS also promotes employment and skills training for courses including construction, catering, IT & languages. Counselling sessions are also arranged through the service.
The scheme has worked with 95 clients across London including those with mental and physical health problems, dependency issues and care needs in old age. The SLS shortlisting for LaingBuisson’s personalised care award comes after hugely positive results.
Reports suggest that seven in every ten homeless clients have one or more mental health needs and nearly eight in ten have a physical health problem.  The impact of the SLS is demonstrated by the fact that at Riverside’s Parliament Hill scheme, where all residents benefit from tailored support options, there has been a 15% increase in clients managing their health in better ways, now reported at 60% of clients.
On top of this, Parliament Hill has seen an 11% increase in clients accessing training and education and a seven percent increase in clients of working age now in employment.
Georgina Murray, Team Leader at Riverside’s Support Link Service expressed her joy on being shortlisted for an Independent Specialist Care Award: “I am delighted that Riverside’s Support Link Service has been shortlisted for the award. The recognition is thanks to all of the hard work the team and specialist workers do to improve the lives of our clients.
“There appears to be strong competition in the personalisation category so it is a testimony to the service that we have reached the final stage.”
The winner will be announced on Wednesday 12 March 2014.
 Homeless Link, The health and wellbeing of people who are homeless: Evidence from a national audit, October 2010.