(Christian Action and Response in Society)
“People who are homeless are not social inadequate. They are people without homes.” (Sheila McKechnie)
People loose their homes or become homeless for many different reasons e.g. unemployment, low wages, divorce, domestic abuse, mental illness, redundancy and financial problems. When approaching local authority for housing assistance these families are not fully aware of the procedure, are unsure of the options available and often have to wait for the local authority to make a decision on their homelessness application which can be a long process and can cause stress and instability in the family life. In Haringey there is a shortage of social housing. Families deemed “priority need” been placed in long-term Private Sector Leased for 3-8 years.
CARIS Haringey is a registered charity that works with and on behalf of some of London’s poorest and most deprived people – homeless families living in temporary accommodation. We operate right across the London Borough of Haringey, a Borough that has more than 5,000 households which are officially registered as homeless.
CARIS Haringey has been providing a holistic range of services for families in temporary accommodation since 1990. We are the only organisation in the London Borough of Haringey that exists solely to work with and for homeless families. Our services are open to everyone in temporary accommodation in Haringey Borough. We are accredited with CLS Quality Kite Mark for general help with casework (housing, education, women, employment, debt, welfare right, education, Refugee & Asylum Seekers) and with OISC level 1 -immigration. These accreditations mean we can be a ‘one stop shop’ for families.
“Homelessness for me was not just about having no place to live. It was about loosing my independence and purpose in life, being isolated, humiliated and ignored.” (CARIS client)
We can be a ‘one stop shop’ for families who would otherwise have to attempt the daunting task of securing support; by offering advice on their legal rights offering a place where families can turn up to socialise, enjoy various activities with their children and for events such as our weekly drop-in or summer play scheme.
During this time families may experience problems with overcrowding, disrepair and conditions such as damp, condensation, electrical faults, damages to interior or the exterior building structure, infestations e.g. cockroaches and bed bugs, mice and rats etc. For some families CARIS Advice Workers is the only life line to deal with resolving disputes with landlords.
“…I was being truly listened to with a sympathetic ear and there was warmth in the reception I was given and I felt relaxed to unburden myself.” (CARIS client)
CARIS continues to raise awareness of the effects of homelessness and poor housing to families. Our efforts to improve communication with the local authority have proved positive CARIS is part of Haringey Homeless Steering Group. This group has been set up to review and produce Haringey’s new Homelessness Strategy 2008-2011 that is fit for purpose and addresses local and national priorities. CARIS is committed to partnership working so that we continue to “make a difference” for the vulnerable families and their children in our society and ensure temporary accommodation is more than a “just a roof”.
Senior Advice & Outreach Worker