New good practice standard for night shelters
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
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Housing Justice has launched a new national good practice standard for night shelters - the Housing Justice Quality Mark.
The HJQM sets out standards of good practice, including risk assessment, health and safety, training for volunteers, and partnership working - and will make sure that shelters operate safely and work in partnership with others to respond effectively to the needs of their homeless guests.
The standard has already been piloted across several shelters.
Julie Thomson, coordinator of Bradford Inn Churches, said: “We welcomed the chance to be part of the Quality Mark pilot. As an established shelter with good practice we were keen to have outside support to review our policies and procedures.
"As a result of our measures adhering to the Quality Mark our central insurance policy premium has now been reduced. I would encourage other shelters to get involved in the scheme. It highlights the strengths of the excellent work we all do and supports areas where we feel we might need improvement.”
Designed for both new and existing shelters, the HJQM is applicable for winter and year round shelters and those commissioned under severe weather emergency protocol, which open when the temperature drops below zero.
It will be rolled out initially in England, but it is hoped the methodology will transfer to shelters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Gary Messenger, head of strategy and partnerships at Homeless Link, said: “Church Night Shelters play an integral role in providing a safety net for homeless and vulnerable people. Many provide that additional vital link, especially when working closely with the local outreach teams and hostels and other supported housing projects, in helping people move away from homelessness completely.
"I am really excited about the new Housing Justice Night Shelter Quality Mark, which includes this and I would hope all shelters sign up to it.”
Robert White of Westminster City Council added: “As a rough sleeping services commissioner, I see real value in using the Housing Justice Quality Mark to build bridges between local authorities and high quality, non-commissioned services.”