Planning approval submitted by Cheshire West and Chester Council has been granted this week and will see the site at the Mulberry Centre convert into permanent homeless accommodation with the service delivered by forfuture.

Since the summer of 2020 forfutures has been delivering temporary accommodation services for people sleeping rough, so they have somewhere to stay.

Staffed 24 hours a day we work with customers offering tailored support to help develop their skills, lifestyle and confidence and support them with a move to independent living.

We’re thrilled that we can continue to provide somewhere to stay for people sleeping rough making more things possible for more people.

Council tenants in Cheshire West and Chester are at the forefront of transformational change in the social housing sector following the Grenfell disaster.

The Government’s Social Housing White Paper responds to concerns raised after the 2017 tragedy by taking steps to improve the safety and quality of social housing and overhaul the complaints procedure and the way social landlords work with their tenants.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s housing management provider ForHousing is already acting on many of the proposals in the White Paper by empowering tenants, increasing their influence, and being more accountable as a landlord.

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, visited Chester on Tuesday to meet with tenants to hear first-hand about their improving experiences of living in Council housing in Cheshire West.

One of the tenants he met was Antony Spurway who lives in Cheshire West, he said: “It was great to meet the Minister and tell him about my positive experience of living in a Council home. As an involved tenant I really feel the relationship is two way – I have learned and developed myself but ForHousing and its partners also listen and learn from what tenants say on how services are being delivered.”

The ForHousing Tenant Voice Strategy was launched in May 2020 to strengthen the relationship between landlord and tenant and put tenants’ views and perspectives at the heart of the organisation.

ForHousing has now started discussions with tenants and leaseholders about their commitment to the National Housing Federation’s new Together with Tenants’ Charter, which will help ensure that ForHousing and Cheshire West and Chester Council as landlords are meeting the requirements of the White Paper.

Henry Terefenko, Managing Director of ForHousing, said: “We are dedicated to creating quality homes and places where people are proud to live – making more things possible for more people. Our Tenant Voice Strategy which launched last year, is all about collaborating with and listening to tenants to shape and improve our services together.

“We are proud to pledge our support for the National Housing Federation’s Together with Tenants Charter which builds on this, and sees us working in partnership with tenants and Cheshire West and Chester Council. It will help ensure we stay on track to continue to deliver on the White Paper proposals.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Everyone living in social housing should expect to be able to live in a safe home, be treated with respect, have their voice heard and have any complaints dealt with fairly.

“We are proud of the work of our partner ForHousing in putting tenants at the forefront of everything they do. It is the right approach. Signing up to this new code of governance, the Together with Tenants’ Charter, demonstrates that we aim to place the views and needs of residents at the heart of decision making in the future.”

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said: “It was great to visit Chester yesterday and speak to residents about their experiences of living in Social Housing in the area.

“The Government’s reforms to Social Housing will drive up standards, ensuring homes are safe and fit for purpose as well as giving residents a clear pathway to raise concerns when things go wrong.

“I was delighted to hear that ForHousing and Cheshire West and Chester Council are already working together to put these improvements in place.”

The Social Housing White Paper was published November 2020 and is considered a significant change within the housing sector.

It aims to realign the relationship between landlord and tenant, through greater transparency and accountability, and deliver a new consumer social housing regulatory regime.

It sets out how the Government will ensure that social housing customers are safe, are listened to, live in good quality homes, and how complaints will be addressed.

Early on Monday July 26th 2021, we became aware that forfutures was the subject of a cyber security incident.

This means that hackers attempted to gain unauthorised access to our systems. Therefore, we have taken our systems offline as a precautionary measure, to protect your personal data.

Investigations are currently ongoing and will allow us to determine the extent of the incident and whether any data was accessed. At the moment, it appears that the quick actions of our ICT specialists meant we were able to prevent major damage from being caused.

Your safety is our priority and this includes the safety and integrity of your personal data.

We wanted to make you aware of this attempted cyber security incident so that you can be extra vigilant.

We have been able to resume a limited service and are working towards recovering all of our systems in a safe and secure way and normal, full operations will return as quickly as possible.

In the meantime and as a precaution please be extra careful when receiving contacts out of the ordinary – please do everything to keep yourself and your personal data safe.

We will keep you updated. Please keep referring back to this page where more information will be shared as it becomes available. If you have any other questions, please provide your details in this form and we will make contact with you as soon as possible.

If you need to contact us urgently, please call 0300 123 5522.

We’re continuing to look at how wellbeing makes more things possible for more people and reflect on the first year of our Wellbeing Strategy.

The role of a home and sense of belonging in a person’s life story can be significant. A stable, safe, quality home is essential for putting down roots in a community and capitalising on opportunities influencing wellbeing.

We believe everyone should be able to improve their quality of life and a home enables people to put down roots in a community and capitalise on opportunities influencing wellbeing, particularly in health, education and employment.

Did you know? Over the past 12 months:

Read below about how we supported Kirsty find a new home for her and her baby.


Kirsty, 19, was studying at university when she became pregnant and found living in University Accommodation very difficult, so she decided to return to care leavers services for support. Kirsty wanted to move into her own home to raise her baby, but she needed some financial support to enable her to do that as managing the costs of moving into and maintaining a home is a huge challenge, especially with a new baby and continuing her studies.

Next Steps, Salford City Council’s care leaving service contacted ForHousing to discuss Kirsty’s needs. A partnership between the two organisations means that support can continue for care leavers until they reach 25 years old.

Through the partnership Kirsty was initially offered a one-bedroom apartment, but the team were aware that once Kirsty’s baby was born, she would be entitled to a two-bedroom home.

To help Kirsty avoid having to move twice with limited resources and placing her under further financial pressures, we offered her a two-bedroom apartment with the initial support of a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to make up the shortfall in rent until her baby was born.

This meant Kirsty could move in knowing that she would be living there long term and make a home for her and her baby. However, Kirsty didn’t have any furniture and with a very limited income was struggling to buy everything she would need for herself and her baby.

As part of the Greater Manchester Care Leavers Trust, we have pledged to offer greater support for those people leaving care. This is because we know care leavers are more at risk of issues such as homelessness, poverty and poor health. This meant that Kirsty could be given some extra help to set up her home, and we provided her with carpets, furniture some white goods for the kitchen and even helped her decorate.

Care leavers services continued: “Because ForHousing have carpeted and decorated the property, and even provided a furniture pack, Kirsty now has the chance to experience an easy transition in starting her life at a new home.”

In preparation for her new life, Kirsty was enrolled on the Resettlement Passport programme, an online learning course which enables young people to gain the skills and confidence they need to manage and run a home.

Kirsty’s support worker said: “Kirsty loves her new flat. It’s so quiet and the location is great with easy access to the local shops. She thinks it’ll be a great place to settle with her baby.”

We’re continuing to look at how wellbeing makes more things possible for more people and reflect on the first year of our Wellbeing Strategy.

Your wellbeing, whether its physical, financial or emotional is hugely important to us. That’s why we want to support and empower you to live a better life and achieve your potential and thrive.

A person-centred approach puts people, families and communities at the heart of health and wellbeing. We have created the best possible environment for you to do great things, encouraging learning and development to make a difference to your wellbeing and help you be the best you can be.

Did you know? Over the past 12 months:

We made 19,913 successful welfare calls within the first two months of the first lockdown
344 tenants in our supported and extra care schemes experienced reduced isolation by regularly or occasionally taking part in social activities
Read below about how we deliver services that people want and need.


We made 19,913 successful welfare calls by 28th May 2020, in response to the first lockdown. We proactively contacted tenants who are over 70, single parents, identified as vulnerable, receiving tenancy support case and/or have a welfare or safeguarding concern. We maintained that contact for as long as the tenant needed it or asked us. We also promoted the Salford “Stay In Touch” service, developed to support lonely and isolated residents during the Covid-19 response. In total 950 tenants required medical, food or wellbeing related support.

Cat (staff) recently got in touch with Mrs P, who celebrated her 60th birthday over the weekend. In their last conversation, during the initial batch of welfare calls, Mrs P had mentioned that she felt really down about having a milestone birthday during the lockdown. Cat wanted to check in with Mrs P to make sure that she’d celebrated her birthday as best she could whilst in lockdown. Mrs P let Cat know that although her son and daughter hadn’t been able to visit, she’d managed to have a few socially distanced drinks in the garden with some friends. They’d even found an old music player with some songs from when they were younger to enjoy. She was grateful that Cat had remembered her birthday and reached out.

Nicola (staff) spoke with a lone parent and NHS key worker. They told Nicola, “I have been working crazy hours and not had much time to think about the wellbeing of me and my own family. I’m taken aback by the thoughtful call that someone is asking about me and her family whilst I am looking after everyone else. I really appreciate the call”.

Sharon (staff) spoke with Mr F who was elderly and lives alone. After some conversation, Sharon discovered he hadn’t had a proper meal for weeks as his food parcels hadn’t arrived and he didn’t know what to do. He was trying to work it out through his GP and was hopeful it’d be sorted soon. Sharon wanted to make sure Mr F received a proper meal as soon as possible, so she contacted Knowsley Council who have been delivering meals to vulnerable and elderly residents. They sprang into action and a hot meal was delivered to him that same day. Mr F is now on the list for a daily deliver.

Andy (staff) had been trying to make contact with a tenant, Mr L, through welfare calls. However, he had numerous failed attempts so he decided to write a letter to Mr L. A few days later, a family member of Mr L contacted Andy to say they had noticed the letter when visiting to provide him with essentials, and thanked Andy for his kind words and offers of support. During the conversation, it became clear that Mr L would benefit from further support and a referral has been made to Spirit of Salford, which provides support and advice on lots of different issues including wellbeing.

Josh (staff) was able to finally make contact with a tenant, Mr O, who had three previously unsuccessful contacts. Mr O initially said that everything was OK, but Josh knew Mr O was elderly, lived alone, and was concerned he was struggling to hear everything Josh was saying. Josh had a feeling something wasn’t right – so after the call had finished he sent a courtesy follow up text. Mr O responded to the text sharing that actually, he had no heating or hot water in his home, and he had no idea how to report it. Josh quickly raised an urgent repair and kept Mr O up to date throughout the whole process via text message.

We care about your wellbeing and understand that connecting with others creates a sense of belonging.

Volunteering is a great way to stay social and connected and it can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences and boost your confidence!

Did you know? Over the past 12 months:

We’ve awarded £60,343 in funding and supported 110 community groups to deliver activities in communities and benefited over 1,387 tenants and residents
Over 2,519 hours were volunteered by 73 tenants and customers and this included 24 new volunteers
If you’re looking for a way to stay social, and to connect with other people, then give volunteering a go! It could be a great way for you to make new friends and make a real difference to people who need a bit of extra help and support.

As well as helping others, volunteering can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Giving something back to your community, whether that be your time or your skills, can boost your feelings of happiness and make you feel good.

Hear from Stephanie Tomlinson about how volunteering has helped her and the local community in the short video.

We’re continuing to look at how wellbeing makes more things possible for more people and reflect on the first year of the Wellbeing Strategy.

Wellbeing is not just about health. Developing skills and knowledge is essential for people to get on in life allowing people of all ages to adapt and succeed in a changing world.

Learning can give people the confidence and self-esteem to take up further opportunities and we believe people flourish in finding their own strengths, managing their own careers and by connecting with others.

Did you know? In the past 12 months:

312 children accessed healthy, fun and creative online activities delivered by Play Streets during the school holidays
Read below about how Play Streets has helped build skills, confidence and self-esteem.


Sharna and her son Noah, 2, took part in Play Streets, which delivered 58 online activity sessions during the school holidays. These positive and entertaining ‘things to do’ included growing food and cooking meals, science activities, arts and crafts, storytelling, reading challenges and sports.

Sharna found out about Play Streets through a post on the Play Street Facebook group and after signing up used the activity pack we provided to take part in as many activities as possible. Noah’s favourite thing to do was arts and crafts, as he loves to get messy and creative, particularly painting. Sharna even shared Noah’s creation for the pumpkin carving competition with the group.

Sharna said, “It’s worth everyone giving it a try! It’s great to let them experiment and be creative and it was a great chance to spend quality time with Noah doing something we both enjoy”.

Quotes from other parents

“My daughter loved the arts and crafts. It really helps as it gives her a break from schoolwork and something to do. She loves learning and this is something else to challenge her and focus on.” Leslie

“Thank you guys for a brilliant week of ideas and challenges. They have all enjoyed it.” Jenny

View more articles

We’re continuing to look at how wellbeing makes more things possible for more people and reflect on the first year of the Wellbeing Strategy.

Whether you’re at work, home, shopping or even at the gym digital technology is never far away.

We know that technology is now embedded in day to day life and equal access and use ensures everyone can actively participate. This was never more evident than during Covid-19 restrictions, when digital skills were essential for being able to work, learn, shop and socialise safely.

Did you know? Over the past 12 months:

Read below about how vital virtual services like these have helped Mrs M’s son see her new home.


Our virtual lettings of empty homes are a good example of how moving to online viewings can have a better outcome for tenants, and actually be the preferred way post-pandemic.

We use video calls to do a live walk through of the whole property, meaning we answer any questions right there and then. Prospective tenants are fully involved throughout the entire process. People can share viewings of their new homes with family and friends, at a time that suits them, so that everyone is involved in the experience. Pre-recorded videos provide tenants with all the information they need to kickstart a successful tenancy.

Mrs M, 60, said, “Being able to view the property virtually allowed for my son to see my new home too. If this was a viewing in person, I would have had to attend by myself”.

Celebrate with us as we look back over the past 12 months and the first year of the Wellbeing Strategy. We’re looking at how wellbeing makes more things possible for more people and we want to share some of these fantastic stories and celebrate with you this week, it’s also an opportunity to think about your own wellbeing.

Through the Wellbeing Strategy, we’re delivering activities and initiatives that provide wellbeing for tenants, employees and communities where we own and manage homes, employ staff or deliver services on behalf of partners.

The Strategy outcomes for staff and tenants fall under 7 categories;

Over the course of the week we will be looking at the impact of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, along with hints and tips that tenants have found useful to manage their own wellbeing. Stay tuned for more updates and about how you can get involved.

Janet Lawton, is Strategic Lead for Homelessness at ForHousing

I’ve always wanted to help others.

A career in housing is perfect for that.

We are often rushed into making life-defining decisions about the jobs we apply for and industries we work in – either because there is a financial necessity for ourselves or our family, or because we’ve never been made aware of all the options available to us.

We spend so much of our lives in work – an average of 3,507 days in our lifetimes according to one survey – and yet rarely are we afforded the time to consider the kind of roles that we’d be happy dedicating our lives too.

I hear so many people talking about ‘falling’ into a career in housing. I’m certainly one of them.


I originally wanted to be a social worker.

After finishing my education I got a job in a local council’s housing department on the lettings team, thinking it would be a good stepping stone to the job I wanted.

One thing led to another and I fell in love with housing, especially the idea of being able to provide homes and new life chances for the most vulnerable people in society.

I worked for a national supported housing provider which helped me understand the complexities involved in the lives of some people and the challenges they face in accessing and maintaining good quality homes.

Over the years I saw the amount of money available for support services dwindle, while the problems people had to deal with got more complicated. I’m sure there is a correlation there.


In 2017 I transferred into ForHousing when it won the contract to manage council owned homes for Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Shortly afterwards I heard about the opportunity for ForHousing to deliver Cheshire West and Chester’s homelessness support services..This was the start of forfutures and I jumped at the chance to lead the team.

I was as enthusiastic as I had ever been about the impact I could have with the weight of ForHousing behind me!

We mobilised the service in 2018 under the new forfutures banner. It was the proudest moment of my career.

I vividly remember the clock striking midnight over the Easter weekend when ForHousing officially became the council’s contractor.

There was so much to do, and we’ve made some massive changes over the years becoming more focused on preventing homelessness before it happens.

To date we’ve worked with more than 3,700 people overall, helping 513 of these people to move away from life on the streets.

I think I speak for myself and my colleagues in forfutures when I say that, as much as working in homelessness prevention and support is challenging, the rewards are great when you know that you have directly supported someone to improve their life.

Doing what you love sometimes means professional and personal lives get blurred. Away from work I sing soprano with The Choir with No Name Liverpool, a charity that supports inclusion for people who have experienced homelessness or are otherwise marginalised.

That may come as a surprise to those used to my low speaking voice.


The challenges in combatting homelessness remain significant. The pandemic has seen levels of homelessness rising. Tensions in households have created crisis situations and people who were on the edge of homelessness have been tipped over and left insecure and vulnerable.

Yes, safeguards like the ‘Everyone In’ campaign, which ensured nobody had to sleep rough during lockdown, a pause on evictions, and the various financial packages to protect people’s income have made a difference.

But these safety nets will soon end – and when they do we must make sure people can navigate the various systems so they can improve their situations and create new opportunities.

We also need to consider the impact of digital exclusion. Getting digital skills, equipment and internet access mainstreamed so that anyone, regardless of their situation, can access support without the need to travel or wait to see somebody face to face is a situation many would welcome, but one that society is a long way from achieving.

Over the longer term we need to reframe the conversation around homelessness.

It can be seen as a simple housing issue, when in fact it covers social care, health services, criminal justice, education, poverty, inequality – almost every part of society.

For landlords that means a big focus on collaboration and ensuring we stay in touch with the ‘social’ part of our mission.

It is time to link back to the same values that led to the emergence of housing associations after the ‘Cathy Come Home’ film shone a light on poverty and inequality in the 1960’s.

So many of us find our calling by chance. But it seems to me that the new generation of workers are more in tune with finding their purpose.

They don’t just want a job. They want to make a difference. They take time to figure out what their values are and pick careers that align with them.

We should welcome this.

Working in housing, and especially homelessness, gives you an opportunity to improve lives. We do it every single day.

If we can tell our story well I’m sure we’re going to find more people deciding that a career in housing is one that they can look back on and be proud of.

February was LGBT History Month. Colette McKune argues that the sector must keep on going flying the flag for LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Back in a time when we were permitted to gather publicly, ForHousing was a staunch champion of Pride festivals across the North West of England.

“It came as a shock to me then that there were questions as to whether it was the role of a housing association to engage in such activities”

We loved being part of them – especially Manchester’s famous parade – with tenants and colleagues marching proudly together with thousands of other people to demonstrate a shared passion for equality.

It came as a shock to me then that there were questions as to whether it was the role of a housing association to engage in such activities.

Our response to those who felt it was not our place to engage publicly in this debate has been to double down on our support of LGBTQ+ rights campaigns.

LGBTQ+ rights must be a leadership issue for landlords.

If we really want to see real change and make more things possible for more people, then like-minded people must come together behind a common purpose.

In this case, the rights of LGBTQ+ people to live freely without discrimination. I’m proud to stand with any group of people taking on this cause.

That means joining forces with tenants, other housing associations and wider partners in the community to form a strong collective voice.


“As landlords we have a unique connection with communities. Lockdown has emphasised that we have the power to help people find their voice and to use it. If we don’t, then who will?”

One blog, one Twitter post or one press release won’t make a difference. But thousands of them, from thousands of different organisations, day in and day out, just might.

For all the progress on LGBTQ+ rights over recent decades, we need to remember that there is still a long road ahead.

Across the UK, more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination.

One in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the past 12 months.

These shocking statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.

We live in 2021, and sadly discrimination is still a reality for many LGBTQ+ people in their workplaces and neighbourhoods.

As landlords we have a unique connection with communities. Lockdown has emphasised that we have the power to help people find their voice and to use it.

If we don’t, then who will?

“I believe that in the housing sector we have a responsibility to be louder and clearer in our support of LGBTQ+ rights, not just within our organisations but in the communities we work in and beyond”


That is why we need to make our stand on LGBTQ+ rights a very public one.

At ForHousing we’ve worked with community groups, such as Stockbridge Gemz, an LGBTQ+ social group in Knowsley, helping to connect and support people and to give LGBTQ+ people a voice.

Hate crime sessions we’ve run with partners at local youth clubs have helped educate young people, where they created artwork with positive messages to highlight the importance of standing up to hate and to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ hate crime.

I know from personal experience what it is to challenge stigma – I’ve faced bias and sexism throughout my own career. Disappointingly, I still am.

That’s part of the reason why equality, diversity and inclusivity have been my watchwords during my time as group chief executive at ForHousing.

We want everyone to feel safe in their communities and work with partners to help to build vibrant, diverse communities where all tenants are empowered and respected.

I believe that in the housing sector we have a responsibility to be louder and clearer in our support of LGBTQ+ rights, not just within our organisations but in the communities we work in and beyond.

Everyone deserves to be able to be their true self without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

We have a big role to play in ensuring people have a voice; sometimes that starts with finding our own.

Colette McKune MBE, group chief executive, ForHousing

Our approach, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has always followed the latest Government guidelines.

Our current ways of working have not been affected by the new lockdown. We are still operating in the same way, so you don’t need to worry.

Support

A helpline is available to support those self-isolating with access to food, medicine, financial support and loneliness.

For Cheshire West and Chester, call 0300 123 7031 open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and Saturday’s 9am to 12:30pm, or visit the Cheshire West and Chester Council website for more information.

A partnership between forfutures and Share has created new homes for people facing life on the streets in Chester.

Forfutures, which provides homelessness services for Cheshire West and Chester Council, has teamed up with the charity following Share’s purchase of a property in Chester.

The property has been converted into a home for three people facing homelessness so they can start to build a more positive, sustainable future.

People will live in the property for up to six months and during this time, forfutures and Share will support them to move on to a more permanent home.

Part of the criteria for moving into this home is that people are actively seeking or are currently in education, voluntary work or paid work.


The first customers moved into the property at the end of July.

Two of them had been rough sleeping and engaged with the forfutures team to work towards meeting the criteria.

Another approached the council’s Housing Options team after he lost his job due to the pandemic, experienced a relationship breakdown and had to leave his home.

Staff supported him to get his finances in order and maximise his income.

He said: “The help I received from forfutures was brilliant. They were aware of my problems and they always listened and acted on any concerns I had.

“They provided a reference for me which I firmly believe had a great impact on the landlord’s decision to accept me as a new tenant.

“I’d like to thank them for all their help, which has really helped me get my life back on track.”


Janet Lawton, Strategic Lead for Homelessness from forfutures said: “This is a fantastic example of great partnership working between organisations that share the same values and want to work collaboratively to end homelessness in Cheshire West and Chester.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been able to work closely with those facing homelessness and homes like this will support people in taking a huge step towards a new life with a brighter future away from the streets.”

Debra Webb, Chairperson from Share said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with forfutures in providing this level of accommodation and support, to empower individuals to move their lives forwards. This is a critical stage in the life of someone who has experienced homelessness and the support needs to be there to make this transition a success. This kind of partnership working allows that to happen and we are excited to see the positive outcome of this.”

This year’s campaign theme is ‘Mental Health for All’. It’s more important than ever that we to look after our mental health, and in some ways, COVID-19 has broken barriers and created more awareness on mental health. We must make sure that these conversations continue as we enter the “new normal”.

Mental health can effect anyone, no matter what walk of life they have come from, that’s why its so important to talk to someone if you are struggling in anyway. Its so important that we are all there for eachother, especially during this difficult time.

If you are struggling, or know anyone who is, we’ve listed some organisations that you can contact for support below.

Samaritans

Samaritans is a free service that is available 24/7, 365 days a year. They offer a safe space for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you.

Call: 116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.co.uk

SHOUT

Shout provides a free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go for anyone who is struggling to cope and needs immediate help.

Text: 85258

MIND

MIND is a charity that provides advice and support for people who are experiencing mental health problems.

Their Infoline provides an information and signposting service, and is open 9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).

Call: 0300 123 3393

Text: 86463

Email: info@mind.org.uk

NHS

The NHS urgent mental health helplines are for people of all ages, and are available 24/7.

Click here to find your local NHS urgent mental health helpline.

In an emergency, always call 999.

We are always here if you need a helping hand. If you are worried and need advice please contact us so we can work together to solve any problem you may have.

After years of sofa surfing and rough sleeping Michael has finally found a home of his own thanks to the team at forfutures and their implementation of the Housing First approach.

Forfutures works across Chester and Cheshire West to help improve the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The team works with partners to support people into safe, secure housing and offers opportunities to build a brighter future.

Michael moved into his new home in March this year after having nowhere to live for 3 years. He’s since been making the most of the support offered to him to seek help for drug addiction.

Housing First was first introduced in England in 2010 and is an approach to tackling homelessness that has been undertaken in a growing number of local areas across the country. It follows a model developed in the US and successfully implemented in several other countries worldwide.

Housing First supports homeless people with complex lives and a history of repeat homelessness to live in their own homes. It is a different model because it provides housing ‘first’, as a matter of right, rather than ‘last’ or as a reward.

Michael was fostered from the age of nine-years-old and when he left full-time care aged sixteen he developed a dependency on Class A drugs. He has siblings in the south of England but had little contact with them over the years he has been rough sleeping.

He slept on friends’ sofas but struggled to stay for any length of time because of his addiction issues and kept ending up back on the streets in Chester.

It was during one of his periods of heavy drug use that Michael was attacked randomly one night, leaving him with damage to his back and neck. Sadly, this has left Michael with problems with both his lungs and his feet which has reduced his mobility.


Michael carried on rough sleeping in Chester after the attack, but after contact with forfutures’ outreach team, he moved into temporary accommodation, and began to engage with the help and services offered.

During the pandemic, Michael was moved into a hotel, which gave him an opportunity to manage his own place. He began to realise that a new way of living was possible for him. Then, in August 2020, Michael moved to the Mulberry Centre, which offers temporary accommodation, and started to address his drug use.

Now Michael is happily settled in his one-bedroom flat through the Housing First scheme and is successfully managing his home without any issues.

He is taking positive steps to look after himself by reaching out for support when needed and addressing problems head on as they arrive.

For example, in the first month of moving into his new home, Michael suffered a bereavement. With help from forfutures and other support services, Michael did not turn to drugs during this difficult time for him.

He said: “I’m really proud to say I’ve now been drug-free for a year and plan to stick to it. I can’t thank forfutures enough for their help. I don’t know where I’d be now without them.

“It’s changed my life having my own place after so many years of living on the streets. After the attack I was really scared. I can sleep at night now without worrying and know I’m safe.”

Housing First takes a people-focused approach to support vulnerable people on a new pathway. Forfutures are working with Michael as he continues his journey and to support him to overcome future challenges and to achieve his goals.

After years of sleeping rough, James has turned his life around and is receiving training and expert advice on starting his own handyperson business thanks to forfutures.

Forfutures helps improve the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, by working with partners to offer opportunities to build a brighter future and to support people into safe, secure housing.

When Lisa Walker, Navigator from forfutures first met James, he was ready to move forward with his life but the 25 year-old didn’t know what his next step should be.

He has now completed training and work placements, become a new dad and settled in his new home during summer 2020.

James had told Lisa at forfutures of his dream of setting up his own company providing handyperson services in his local area. He and his partner were expecting a baby and he wanted to be able to provide for his family himself.

Lisa supported James to gain some experience and get some expert help with the entrepreneurial side of starting a business.


Forfutures were able to secure a week’s work experience in Chester for James with a focus on joinery, in addition to other aspects of handyperson skills. The weeks soon turned into a few months – and the company was so impressed with James that they invited him to stay on. When a forfutures officer visited James on placement and spoke with his supervisor, it was clear that they were in awe of James’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

Throughout, James was encouraged to speak with his work coach to seek further support. He also benefitted from help from Job Centre Plus who funded online training on self-employment and business skills.

As extra security to provide for himself and his family while his business took off, forfutures helped ensure additional Universal Credit payments were also put in place for twelve months.

Although his work was gathering momentum, managing a business from a small flat and a baby on the way meant James and his partner’s home no longer suited their needs.

Forfutures approached their colleagues at ForHousing, who were able to source a garage for James to run his new business from. James took the lead, making arrangements to set up the direct debit and pick up the keys.

The family have since moved into a family home and are enjoying the extra space and getting settled into their new community.

James has also set up a professional website to show off his services and skills and attract business. It is a testament to the progress he has made during his forfutures journey, and all in under six months.

“I had reached a point where I was really eager to get started but I didn’t know how to take the next step,” said James.

“I’m so proud to have set up my own company at the same time as becoming a father – and I couldn’t be more grateful to the forfutures team for helping me get the experience I needed. They have an amazing team who make a real difference to the people they support.”

You can check out James’s website here: www.jhshandyman.com

Garden Quarters provides customers with short term and medium level support across two houses.

Referred from supported accommodation or bed and breakfast a tailored approach determines the individual needs of up to 15 customers. This could range from tenancy management to positive lifestyle changes. The team will then work with each customer on the most suitable housing option suited to them along with the wrap around support required to move them on to independent accommodation.

One customer JL* came to Garden Quarters through the winter provision beds and said “I like living here, it’s a smaller building with less people. It’s great to have my own front door key so I can come and go but I know if I need to speak to anyone staff are here day and night. Hopefully, with support I’ll soon be able to move into my own home”.

JL has also been keeping himself busy painting and is clearly green fingered and taking part in gardening activities including weeding and looking after tomato plants.

The opening of Garden Quarters is making more things possible for more people as we continue to grow our services to meet demand.

*Name changed to protect customer identity.

At forfutures we improve lives and make more things possible for more people. For some customers that come through the service this may be through encouraging people to be involved with different activities to boost their confidence and increase their feelings of wellbeing.

A heavy drinker DJ* had previously been living in a caravan in Ellesmere Port before being referred into forfutures in November 2020. At this point he was drinking daily, and this was having an impact on his behaviour, he was also suffering with depression.

We signposted DJ to other services including the Westminster Drugs Project (WDP) who supported him to reduce his drinking and DJ has now abstained from drinking since June 2021.

DJ is now also taking part in lots of different activities which he enjoys and helps to keep him busy. Danny Sadler, Training and Employment Mentor at forfutures has supported DJ and he is now taking part in lots of different activities which he enjoys.

A love of gardening has developed and DJ often works at the forfutures allotments and also visits the Mulberry Centre where he tends to the gardens there. He has since also visited other supported accommodation to help maintain outside spaces there too.

When he’s not tending to gardens DJ also takes part in Soul Kitchen’s five aside football every week and he also attends his local foodbank where he offers his time to help out.

We’re pleased to see DJ also encouraging others to be involved and is attending meetings for men at Howley House to discuss other ideas for activities for others to enjoy.

Keeping busy and being involved in a range of activities has helped DJ on his road to recovery. He said “Since coming into the service I now feel my journey is more positive, I’ve been alcohol free for five and half months. I volunteered at the foodbank through lockdown and this made a huge difference to my life giving me purpose.

Football has definitely improved my fitness and I am growing in confidence through meeting new people. My next big goal is to get in touch with family.”

His journey is still on-going but he has made huge changes to his lifestyle which have positively impacted his overall health and wellbeing.

Forfutures customers had planted their tomato seedlings to grow on windowsills and other vegetable delights were sprouting in trays when the pandemic hit, closing the forfutures allotment.

The allotment is a lifeline for those that enjoy spending a few hours outdoors planting or weeding. Forfutures staff kept in touch with members of the group during lockdown via telephone calls but as soon as restrictions eased the volunteers couldn’t wait to start back. The unusually warm weather meant the site was overgrown but thanks to the hard work of the group the allotment started to look neat and tidy ready for planting.

Fast forward 12 months and despite Covid’s best attempts at thwarting our community growning space, 2021 has been an excellent year. The produce we’ve grown has been used but the customer group and also benefitted local charities who supply food to the homeless and those living in temporary accommodation.

One member of the group Connor explained that he’d learnt so much. When he first joined he thought potatotes grew on trees, but he now knows how to plant them and importantly when they are ready to harvest. He also researched different recipes and used some of the produce to rustle up something tasty to eat.

Groups such as the forfutures allotment are vital to improve skills and boost confidence. Connor has said he’s increased his communication skills too, he will now let staff know if he’s running late or if he has an appointment which clashes with the group, something he wouldn’t have done previously.

He has taken the volunteering very seriously and has supported other customers who are in temporary accommodation telling them about the support at Forfutures and how he’s now in his own place as a result of accepting the help on offer.

Dan uses the allotment as a diversionary activity from risk taking behaviour. He has been coming on and off for a couple of years however for the past 5 months he has attended regularly. The session has been part of a catalyst to abstaining from using alcohol during this period. Dan also attends other forfutures and community activities and is volunteering weekly at a local community hub helping with food distribution, something that was very sporadic previously.

Dan has grown in confidence and focus and now reflects where things have gone wrong turning his attention to the positive direction his life is now heading. Dan has used his new skills to help turn around gardens of two dispersed properties, benefitting the customers moving in.

The allotment group has really helped make more things possible for more people. We are sure the group will continue to thrive in the future and we hope both Connor and Dan will continue to enjoy many benefits through taking part and inspire others to join too.

We are always looking for a range of activities that customers can get involved with. If you can offer any support, please email danny.sadler@forfutures.co.uk.

Jamie, aged 60 from Ellesmere Port, was referred by Westminster Drugs Project for complex needs support with forfutures in May 2020. At the time he was a heavy drinker and smoking 40 to 60 cigarettes a day. Drinking and smoking heavily for most of his life has taken its toll on his health.

The complex needs service at forfutures provides individual support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by working with partners to provide them with safe housing and opportunities to build a brighter future.

Before arriving in Chester, Jamie had left his home in Birkenhead due to his relationship with his ex-partner having broken down.

With no relatives to stay with, Jamie became homeless and was left feeling isolated and alone and was living in a bedsit. Although he had been given somewhere to live, with mounting health problems that included asthma, diverticulitis, high blood pressure and diabetes, made it unsuitable for Jamie to live there.

Forfutures arranged support for Jamie, which included requesting his priority on the council’s housing waiting list due to his poor health and exploring possibilities for him to find a new home.

It was at this point that Jamie was diagnosed with lung cancer.


Forfutures prioritised finding a ground-floor home for him, as he was due for major surgery to remove part or all of his right lung to stop the cancer from spreading.

The additional risk of catching COVID-19 in his shared bedsit increased the urgency, and forfutures successfully secured him a bungalow in a quiet area of Chester.

Jamie moved into a property this Spring, just a fortnight before he had the operation on his right lung – where three-quarters of it was removed.

He has been recovering well since surgery, and after initially having support from the district nurses, he now attends regular follow-up appointments.

Since then, Jamie has new friends and neighbours in his new community, they support each other and he is more comfortable and happier than he has been in a long-time.

Before his operation, he had essential furniture, white goods and carpets delivered through the local Help in Emergencies for Local People scheme (HELP), and forfutures had also managed to help get back a few prized possessions from his former home, including a treasured photograph of his mum.

Jamie recently bought a mobility scooter which has increased his independence.

Now, Jamie no longer requires help from Westminster Drug Project and has completed a programme to lower his alcohol intake and is also getting support to cut back his smoking.

His forfutures Complex Needs and Support Coordinator was with him every step of the way, attending hospital appointments with him and supporting him through his surgery.

Jamie said: “My stress levels have gone right down now my health is back on track and I have somewhere comfortable to live.

“Forfutures have helped me turn my life around and were there for me when things were really tough and I was really worried about my cancer and the surgery.

“Things are looking more positive for me now and I’m feeling better about the future than I have for a long time.”

At forfutures we fuel potential to improve lives. This means equipping staff with the right skills and training. Our Way of Working is about developing a common and consistent approach to working with the most vulnerable people living in communities where we work.

Researched and driven forward by the Children’s Trust it has a strong preventative approach and is based upon shared language and shared understanding across all partner agencies.

Many customers experience a wide range of difficulties, in many cases their lifestyle may lead to varying levels of trauma. One of the core visions of the training is to improve resilience as well as emotional health and wellbeing. It builds upon our staff’s personal strengths and enables them to improve overall outcomes for those customers actively engaging with our services.

Forfutures worked in partnership Cheshire West and Chester Council in the delivery of ‘Our Way of Working’ training at a range of levels with representation at Communications meeting, Training and Development Meeting as well as the Strategic Subgroup. These meetings focus and drive delivery across all services and partners across Cheshire West and Chester.

To date 103 forfutures staff have attended the Leaders or Core training programme with a further 14 undertaking the enhanced sessions as well as one staff member attending Trauma Informed Assessments training.

Following the training one staff member said “I now have the ability to manage situations safely and recognise, respond and continue to build resilience to situations as they occur.”

At forfutures we value the individual and tailor our approach to each person. The Our Way of Working training will complement our work to benefit the customer with a greater understanding of how the customer journey impacts upon the present behaviours.

We will build their self-confidence and enable customers to grow and build coping strategy to improve their lives.

We’re proudly supporting World Refugee Week 2020. A UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.

The organisers of Refugee Week are inviting you to do one (or more) of the eight Simple Acts. They can all be done at home and are inspired by this year’s theme ‘Imagine’. Simple Acts are everyday actions we can all do to stand with refugees and make new connections in communities.

It can help boost our own feelings of wellbeing to appreciate and value the diversity and similarities of people from different backgrounds, and help everyone feel a sense of belonging.

There are also other ways you can get involved in Refugee Week. You can organise an event, volunteer, attend an event or add your voice on social media. Remember to use the hashtag #RefugeeWeek2020.

Have a look at the Refugee Week events calendar, where you can find out what’s on in your city, town or region.

Adam, from Hastings, became homeless after a family relationship broke down. He felt unhappy with where he was living and the people around him and was struggling with his mental health.

The 28-year-old and his best friend, who he describes as being like a brother, decided to leave Kent, travel and visit some family in London.

After that they started looking for a place they could afford to rent together. They had £4,000 they had saved between them towards a deposit.

They found an agency in Stoke on Trent that they were going to rent a home with at a good rate but were devastated when they were defrauded of more than £3,000 of their money by the firm.

Adam and his friend were staying in a hotel at the time and they made friends with someone who was from Ellesmere Port and decided to travel there in early 2018.

With the little money they had left they bought a tent and a camping stove and took a train to the town, prepared to be homeless when they got there.

Adam and his two dogs, Lady and Sparkle, and his friend, lived in their tent under the flyover at the M53. They felt safer sleeping rough there than in some other areas.

Adam said: “It was a difficult time, for the first six months we were in Ellesmere Port we relied on friends and staff at the local Costa for help and foodbank vouchers.”

Clive Smith from forfutures, was doing outreach work with the team when he met Adam and his friend about 18 months ago. He built a relationship with Adam over time, providing support including advice on benefits and linking him up with a GP to get support with his mental health and substance misuse issues.

Ultimately the team supported Adam to apply for his own home through the Housing First initiative.

Christine Black who heads up the Housing First project for forfutures, explains: “Housing First provides a stable base for people who have been homeless straight away and then builds tailored support around it. This turns the usual approach on its head – people usually have to jump through several hoops before getting a home.”

The Housing First approach has been lauded internationally and has gained traction in the past few years in the UK as a new model for tackling homelessness.

Using government funding, forfutures is now underway with a 12-month Housing First pilot project with partners in the Cheshire West and Chester area.

Christine added: “The local housing associations all jumped straight on board including ourselves at ForHousing.

“The project is getting off to a great start but it’s early days. We look forward to reviewing the progress of the pilot this time next year.”

Housing First is just one of the innovative approaches ForHousing are taking to help people who are homeless and prevent homelessness in the first place.

Clive, who is now a Housing First support worker, said: “Adam engaged really well with the services we linked him up with. So well, that the council granted him a local connection after six months, enabling him to move forward with his application for a home in the area through Housing First.”

Before moving into his own place, Adam spent time in a pathways hub at Hamilton House, Chester, to help him with the transition from life on the streets to living independently.

The hub helps people get into a routine, for example by having a shower first thing in the morning and cooking for themselves.

Now Adam has become ForHousing’s first Housing First tenant through the pilot. He moved into his own home in Ellesmere Port this summer.

For the next year he will have a Housing First support worker on hand to help him settle into life in his new home and living independently.

Adam said: “While at Hamilton House I tried to help and got involved with any activities that were going on.

“You see some people kicking off and not trying. You’ve got to work at it, you can’t expect everything handed to you on a plate.

He said: “I’m doing really well now and I’m really happy in my new flat. I’m settled in my place with my dogs, I’ve got my wi-fi and computer and I just found out an old friend lives down the road from me.”

Adam also took part in ForHousing’s Heads Together for Homelessness event which brought together a range of partners and people who have experienced homelessness to discuss ways to tackle the issue.

“I took part in an event about tackling homelessness last week and it was good to tell my side of the story.

“I would definitely recommend forfutures to others, my Housing First support workers, Clive and Elaine, have been great.

He added: “I’m fully trained as an IT technician so I hope to get some work in that area in the future.”

Clive said: “It’s great to see how Adam is rediscovering skills he had before he slept rough – he’s doing really well.

“Adam has taken positive steps to build a better future for himself and it’s been great to see his confidence and self-esteem grow. He has a lot of skills to offer, particularly around IT, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

The assessment and support facility is based on the ground floor at Hamilton House on Hamilton Place in Chester.

The centre is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by specialist housing and support teams. It provides services to rough sleepers where they can be assessed by trained staff, an appropriate support package identified and they will be offered assistance to enable them to move to suitable accommodation in the borough.

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homelessness Lead, said “This new centre will play an important part in our work to support people experiencing homelessness.

It enables us to engage anyone presenting at the centre in a one-to-one assessment of their needs and put in place a plan of practical support to empower them to start their journey to move away from a life on the streets and into a safe and secure home.”

In addition to forfutures working from the centre, it is intended that third sector will work there in a collective effort to address all issues in a holistic way.

‘Outside In’ is a local collective of charities, voluntary groups, faith groups, businesses, forfutures, Turning Point, Cheshire West and Chester Council, CH1 Chester BID and Cheshire Police are all working together to support people sleeping rough.

Simon Groom, Chair of Outside In, said: “This is great news and comes as a result of joint-working across the borough. Outside In is pleased to support the concept of an Assessment Centre at Hamilton House and we will ensure that our group support and challenge practices and services as appropriate, to ensure a fair and comprehensive offering to our homeless clients.”

The centre is one of only 11 similar schemes across the country being funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Hamilton House Assessment centre is part of the Governments Rapid Rehousing Pathway.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s partner forfutures has secured planning permission to open a new assessment and support centre for people who find themselves with no roof over their head in the borough.

The assessment and support facility will be based on the ground floor at Hamilton House on Hamilton Place in Chester and is due to be open later this month.

The centre will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by specialist housing and support teams. It will provide services to rough sleepers where they can be assessed by trained staff, an appropriate support package identified and they will be offered assistance to enable them to move to suitable accommodation in the borough.

Councillor Angela Claydon, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “People who are sleeping rough often have a mix of complex needs and one person may require a different type of support to another. The specialists at the centre will be able to identify the right support for each person and then be able to help them accordingly.

“The Council, our partners at Outside In and Forfutures have access to a range of resources to help address each individual’s needs. The new centre will provide a vital service and help the Council and our partners achieve our aim of ending rough sleeping in our borough.”

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homeless Lead at Forfutures, said: “This new centre will play an important part in our work to support people experiencing homelessness.

“It will enable us to engage anyone presenting at the centre in a one-to-one assessment of their needs and put in place a plan of practical support to empower them to start their journey to move away from a life on the streets and into a safe and secure home.”

In addition to Forfutures working from the centre, it is intended that third sector will work there in a collective effort to address all issue in a holistic way.

‘Outside In’ is a local collective of charities, voluntary groups, faith groups, businesses, Forfutures, Turning Point, Cheshire West and Chester Council, CH1 Chester BID and Cheshire Police are all working together to support people sleeping rough.

Simon Groom, Chair of Outside In, said: “This is great news and comes as a result of joint-working across the borough. Outside In is pleased to support the concept of an Assessment Centre at Hamilton House and we will ensure that our group support and challenge practices and services as appropriate, to ensure a fair and comprehensive offering to our homeless clients.”

The centre is one of only 11 similar schemes across the country being funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Hamilton House Assessment centre is part of the Governments Rapid Rehousing Pathway.

forfutures, which is working with the Council to end rough sleeping in the borough, has applied for planning permission to turn a Council-owned building in Chester into a much-needed support centre.

It is proposed to turn a ground floor space at Hamilton House on Hamilton Place into a triage-style support and assessment facility for those who find themselves homeless in our city.

The centre will be staffed by housing and support specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who will assess the needs of each individual during a short stay before deciding on the best support options longer term.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, said: “Our aim is to end rough sleeping in west Cheshire and this support hub will really help us to achieve this goal.

“Our outreach teams at forfutures are working on the frontline with rough sleepers and the centre will ensure we have a place where specialists will be on hand to offer the right initial support and be able direct individuals to appropriate housing and emotional support opportunities we provide alongside our partners.

“It will be a safe, dignified, professional environment where highly trained officers can engage with people for a short time in a ‘sit up’ space before they move them on to more long-term support.

“The project has the support and encouragement of the neighbouring church and we have, and will continue to, consult with neighbouring residents and local businesses.”

The Government has recently introduced a new national model to ensure local authorities have the services they need to end rough sleeping called a Rapid Rehousing Pathway. The new facility will ensure the space and facilities from which to run this structured pathway of housing and support.

If approved, the aim is to have the centre open by spring 2019. The project would be one of 11 similar schemes across the country being funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homeless Lead at forfutures, said: “The new centre will play an important role in our work to support those who are sleeping rough.

“It will ensure that even more people in west Cheshire can access emotional and practical support that can enable them to transform their lives and move away from a life on the streets and into a safe and secure home.”

Simon Groom, Chair of Outside In, said: “Outside In was formed to help coordinate and challenge the work of those voluntary, public and business organisations working with the homeless and those at risk of being homeless in Chester City and surrounding areas. This support hub will undoubtedly support our aims and objectives and more importantly, give support where and when it is needed and to those who need it most.”

‘Outside In’ is a local collective of charities, voluntary groups, faith groups, businesses, forfutures, Turning Point, Cheshire West and Chester Council, CH1 Chester BID and Cheshire Police which are working together to support people sleeping rough.

On 1 April 2018 more than 80 staff transferred, from four existing contracts, to ForViva to deliver the forfutures homeless support service in Cheshire West and Chester. The service, which will become more integrated over the coming weeks and months, is currently supporting more than 500 people aged 16 and over, who are at risk of losing their home, or those who are homeless. Forfutures provides advice and information to support people to find accommodation and opportunities to improve their futures.

The forfutures Outreach Team are working with local agencies and partners to identify people who are sleeping rough and engage with them on the most appropriate levels of support and accommodation – including access to short-term accommodation. Less than two weeks into the contract, forfutures helped people who would have been sleeping rough to access emergency accommodation on 203 occasions (correct at 11.04.18).

In light of the ‘Severe Weather Emergency Protocol’ (SWEP) being actioned over Easter, and to support the transition away from safe seats, the emergency provision at Richmond Court remained available. With the news of a planning application being approved forfutures will be providing 12 ‘direct access’ beds, these will be accessed as part of a phased approach and inline with the end of the use of safe seats at Richmond Court.

Our Advice and Information Hubs provide a base for the delivery of the homelessness prevention support and housing advice service available to those at risk of becoming homeless. In total, four Hubs will be open Monday to Friday between 10am – 4pm across west Cheshire.

While our offices are closed on Friday 9th November people can still access advice and support.

If you are experiencing a housing situation which could lead to you becoming homeless call 0300 123 2442 and speak to the Housing Options team. Our Advice and Information page gives you details of our hubs which will be back open as usual on Monday 12th November between 10am and 4pm. Alternatively drop the team a message and we’ll be in touch on Monday 12th November.

If you find yourself sleeping rough, without a bed for the night, or you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, please call our Outreach Team on 0300 123 2442 who are available anytime day or night.

Forfutures helps prevent homelessness in west Cheshire and supports some of the area’s most vulnerable people.

Forfutures runs the area’s homeless support services on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council, and supports those who are at risk of being homeless, those without secure accommodation or ‘sofa surfing’, and people sleeping rough.

Since launching on 1st April 2018, the forfutures team has enabled 95 people to receive outreach support to move indoors from the street, 220 are receiving support to prevent them from losing their homes and a further 280 people have accessed immediate advice or information at one of the forfutures hubs.

Di was supported by forfutures after finding herself homeless and sleeping rough in churchyards.

She said: “I was so depressed. I just got on the bus to Chester with the few things I had. I started talking to people on the street. Someone spotted me and asked me if I was homeless. I said I was and she said she was here to help me. She took me somewhere and found me a room. Now I’ve got somewhere more permanent and it’s been really good. I felt really safe, forfutures couldn’t have been more helpful.”

Janet Lawton, strategic homeless lead at forfutures, said: “We have made great progress over the past six months, creating a more joined-up service across west Cheshire, introducing new approaches and increasing the availability of our services.

“It is fitting to mark World Homeless Day by looking back on everything the team, our partners and volunteers have achieved in helping people like Di.

“But it is also an opportunity to look ahead to ensure we continue to help as many people as possible to move away from a life on the streets to a life in a safe, secure home with opportunities to thrive and to support people to keep their tenancies, preventing them from becoming homeless.”

Councillor Angela Claydon, Cabinet Member for housing and Wellbeing, said: “It is the statutory duty of the Council to ensure people who are homeless or at risk of facing homelessness are supported to find accommodation. Once someone has been given accommodation, it is important that they continue to receive emotional and social support.

“We have commissioned forfutures because it can draw on the expertise and resources of ForViva and ForHousing to provide homeless people with a comprehensive package of support services. In the first six months this partnership has proved successful in helping people improve their personal circumstances.”

Forfutures recently brought together partners from across the borough at Storyhouse in Chester to reflect on achievements made in its first six months and to consider how to continue to improve homeless support services in the area.

The 75-person strong forfutures team has introduced a range of new approaches to support people into safe, secure housing and provide them with opportunities to build more positive and sustainable futures.

This includes a revised street outreach service, mediation services, health and wellbeing support and four hubs offering immediate advice and information about housing options.

Forfutures have been supported with this by a whole range of different organisations, from statutory services to charities and faith groups across the borough.

If you are concerned about becoming homeless yourself or are worried about somebody else you can visit www.forfutures.co.uk for more information or contact the organisation by phone or email.

Referrals or enquiries about the service can be made by:

Members of the public who are concerned about someone sleeping rough can call the 24-hour number 0300 123 2442 (option 4) to let the forfutures Outreach team know.

Her Majesty the Queen – accompanied by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle – is to officially open Chester’s Storyhouse cultural centre on 14th June.

As part of the royal visit to mark the official opening of Storyhouse, our very own Laura-Leigh Thompson, Homeless Prevention Worker has been invited to meet the royals along with members of the Women’s Group she runs.

Women from all backgrounds are encouraged to join the forfutures Women’s Group run from the Storyhouse. Currently the majority of the group are refugees who have been resettled in the UK and are currently being supported by the forfutures service.

The families have been resettled in Ellesmere Port and Chester, through Cheshire West and Chester Council’s involvement in the UK Governments Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, to escape the war back in Syria. The Women’s Group supports the ladies to come together and look forward to the future, we know we cannot replace the homes they have lost, but we aim to help build their lives again. through the group they have the chance to achieve their hopes, build friendships and improve their English language.

The forfutures Women’s Group takes part in organised events in partnership with Storyhouse, such as Women of the World festival, Refugee Week and various local events.

The group meet every other Friday from 10am-1pm, if you would like to attend please contact Laura on 07712691735 or email laura-leigh.thompson@forfutures.co.uk.

Members of the forfutures team and our partners at Outside In took part in an outreach project during the first Chester races day of the year to engage people sleeping rough with the support services available.

Outside In is a multi-agency group made up of local voluntary and faith organisations, health professionals, police and the Chester City BID Group, along with representatives from Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The increased outreach presence was part of a bid to raise awareness with the public of the role of forfutures and like-minded partners in the city, and to demonstrate our shared commitment to working together to coordinate the support available to those that might be sleeping rough.

It was also a valuable way to gain as much insight as possible into anyone experiencing homelessness in the city and the issues they face, following forfutures taking over as the Council’s homeless support service provider last month.

Through the project, the team found that of the 26 people they engaged with, most are known to the organisations working in the city, have been living a ‘street lifestyle’ for a long time, with many known to have complex support needs. This is why a focus on outreach work is a key priority for the forfutures team, recognising that people with complex needs and circumstances need support on an individual basis.

When the forfutures outreach team engage with rough sleepers, they support them to plan their own next steps to reflect their aspirations for changing their circumstances, and to access opportunities available to them to improve their current situation.

For individuals that are open and ready to engage, outreach work offers a real opportunity for them to turn their lives around. For example, after a long conversation with a member of our team, one individual agreed to access emergency accommodation and to work with us to understand his needs and aspirations. He explained that, after 10 years of living on the streets and spells in prison, he had recently undergone help with an addiction and felt ready to take the next steps to engage with forfutures and to find employment. Timing was critical to a successful intervention, and he was offered accommodation that night.

Following the Races Day outreach work, six people continued to engage with the forfutures team to make their first steps into leaving the street and receiving support.

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homeless Lead for forfutures, said: “Our aim, together with our partners, was to be proactive and ensure that our teams are visible to the public who may be concerned about those rough sleeping. More importantly it was an opportunity to reach out to those who are without a roof, to better understand the issues they face and to engage with them to access the support available. The support we had from volunteers from several charities in the City was invaluable in being able to offer individuals a variety of support.”

“When forfutures took over the Council’s homeless support services in April, we wanted to refresh the approach to supporting those who are among the most vulnerable in society, with a strong focus on prevention. We are currently supporting over 500 people, with the majority of those receiving support to prevent them from losing their homes.