BHT is recruiting for a Director of Finance and Resources

One of the most important colleagues for any chief executive is that of the Director of Finance. For me it has to be someone who I can rely on and who has great judgement.  As with any charity, we have our challenges, and the Director of Finance must have a calm head on their shoulders.  Fortunately, crises in BHT are few and far between, but there are challenges regarding the furture direction of BHT to 2022 and beyond.

At BHT the post is called the Director of Finance and Resources and is one of four in the executive management team, working as a close team with Nikki Homewood (our Director of Advice and Support Services), David Chaffey (Director of Housing and Property Services) and me.

The role is currently filled on an interim basis by Les Warren and we are looking to recruit a Director who will take a lead on financial strategy, risk management, operational and financial performance. The Director is responsible for optimising the organisations financial position, value for money and providing constructive challenge and advice to income generation and sustainable growth strategies. They oversee and direct the effective implementation of the Trust’s IT strategy, act as company secretary and be responsible for much of the organisations central resources.

I am looking for someone with vision and an ability to deliver services of excellence, and I will give them support and space to influence the future of the organisation.

This is an exciting post. If you have the passion, are self-motivated, collaborative and a team player, and if you are as ambitious as we are, we want to hear from you. Further information is available here. You must hurry.  The closing date for applications is next Monday (24th April).

Special showing of Cathy Come Home 10th October 2016

The iconic film about homelessness in Britain, Cathy Come Home, will be shown at a special screening at the Duke of York cinema, Preston Circus, Brighton, on Monday, 10th October which is World Homelessness Day.

cathy-come-homeCathy Come Home tells the desperate tale of Cathy, who loses her home, husband and eventually her children through the inflexibility of the British 1960’s welfare system. A bleak picture is painted of mid-sixties London, and though realistic the viewer cannot but realise that a political point is being made.

The film, directed by Ken Loach, was first screened as ‘The Wednesday Play’ on BBC 1 in 1966.

This special screening will be raising funds for our Advice Centre in Queen’s Road, Brighton.

My colleague, Nikki Homewood, who is BHT’s Director of Advice and Support Services, said: “Our day centre, First Base, works with the visible homeless – those sleeping on the streets now. The Brighton Advice Centre works with people who are invisible, who you wouldn’t notice, but who are facing homelessness and major disruption to their lives and those of their children.


Nikki Homewood

“Our Advice Centre prevents several hundred households from becoming homeless each year. Each case of homelessness we prevent saves the local authority £16,000.

“Through our Court Duty Scheme, a service not available to Cathy, we had a 93% success rate over the last year in preventing homelessness for at least 28 days and usually for ever.

“Events such as this screening are so important for the future of our Advice Centre. We receive invaluable funding from Brighton and Hove City Council and the Legal Aid Agency, but BHT still has to invest £200,000 each year into supporting our advice centres in Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings.  I dread to think of the consequences if these advice services were not there.

“Advice services prevent homelessness, and without them the invisible people we work with would soon become the visible homeless living on our streets.”

The screening will take place at 6.30pm on Monday 10th October 2016.

Big Lottery Fund £9.2 million grant to improve services for local people with multiple needs

This week the Big Lottery Fund announced that a partnership led by BHT has been awarded £9.2 million to enhance and improve services across East Sussex for people with multiple and complex needs.

The Fulfilling Lives: Supporting people with multiple needs initiative, aims to bring together organisations that tackle issues of homelessness, mental ill health, addiction and offending  to improve the stability, confidence and capability of people who are affected by some or all of these issues, and to enable them to lead better lives.

Four key areas have been identified as the focus of the programme:

  • improving service delivery,
  • ensuring flexibility,
  • ensuring involvement from service beneficiaries, and
  • sharing learning.

The eight year programme will create better systems and services across Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings to meet the needs of this target group.

BHT led the bid on behalf of the South East Regional Partnership consisting of twelve core partners from local authorities and the charity sector, service users, and sixty other partners, and will now be responsible for delivering the programme between 2014 and 2022.

My BHT colleague, Nikki Homewood, said: “New ways of working and the learning gained from this, will achieve long-lasting improvements to individuals’ lives and services, and how resources are spent. People who use services will have greater involvement in the planning and delivery of the services they receive. We are confident that our project will be instrumental in bringing about both positive outcomes for some of society’s most vulnerable men and women, and significant systems change to ensure the programme’s legacy lives on long after the end of the 8 years.”

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, has said that “Tens of thousands of people are passed from pillar to post with many inevitably leading chaotic lives – rebounding in and out of A & E departments and criminal courts rather than being helped by integrated support services. This £112 million investment will allow people to become assets rather than drains on society and go on to lead fulfilling lives benefitting their communities and society as a whole.”

Jason Mahoney, Programme Manager – Joint Commissioning at East Sussex County Council, one of the core partners, said: “I’m involved with services in East Sussex for people experiencing homelessness, reoffending, substance misuse and mental ill health every day. Most of the time, these services help most of their clients really well. And sometimes – often for people with the most complex needs – something else is needed. A different approach. A new way of working. Perhaps more flexibility. Perhaps better integration, or some other additional support.

“The Big Lottery Fund Fulfilling Lives programme is a fantastic opportunity to try new things. I’m excited about the potential for people in Eastbourne and Hastings. Local organisations are leading an ambitious programme to learn more about helping people with multiple and complex needs to get the right support. The people who benefit will be at the core of what we do. Local commissioners are committed to sustaining the benefits of the programme. What we learn will inform and influence our future commissioning plans as we develop services for local people.”

This is fantastic news for BHT (even though we will be getting just a small fraction of the total fund), for our partners (who will receive the bulk of the funding), and most of all the men and women who will benefit from the programme.

Good news as BHT-led partnership is given the go-ahead to bid for £9.2 million Big Lottery funding

We have had some very good news this week which is attracting some media interest.  A consortium, being led by BHT, is in the running for funding from the Big Lottery of up to £10 million over 8 years.  The initiative is designed to improve services for men and women with complex needs (a combination of mental ill health, homelessness, offending behaviour and substance misuse problems) in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings. Between now and September, a full bid and business plan needs to be prepared.  A decision will then be made by the Big Lottery and the new services will begin from April 2014.

The purpose of this funding is to bring about lasting change in how services work with people with multiple and complex needs; this funding is a vehicle to help bring about that change. The legacy of the 8 year programme will be that systems and services in all 3 geographical areas will better meet the needs of this group.

At this stage we have been awarded funding to develop the bid on behalf of our partnership which includes partners in local government and in the third / charity sectors.  Should the partnership be successful, it won’t just be BHT staff (contrary to what the Argus reported this morning) who will provide services.

My colleagues, Nikki Homewood and Jo Berry, are leading on this initiative for BHT. Nikki said: “As the lead partner for the Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings area, BHT is thrilled to receive funding to develop our partnership bid to ensure better service provision for people with the most complex needs.

“Using the wealth of knowledge and expertise within our local Core Group, comprising seven voluntary sector organisations and five statutory partners including commissioners, along with the 60+ organisations in our Partnership Group, we will develop a programme that will truly bring about change for the clients the programme work with, and local communities.

“Our vision is to bring about long-term systemic change by putting service users at the heart of services, fully understanding what they need in order to move forward with their lives: thorough monitoring and evaluation will result in well-evidenced findings, which will then be used to influence future commissioning.”

BHT’s partners in this initiative, and who are represented on the local Core Group, include: Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton Women’s Centre, CRI, East Sussex County Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, Hastings Borough Council, Homeless Link, Sanctuary Supported Living, Southdown Housing Association, Sussex Oakleaf, Sussex Probation Service

Bullingdon Club Bullies dehumanise homeless man by burning £50 in front of him

This afternoon I was writing a no doubt worthy item for this blog on BHT’s preparation for the digital inclusion challenges relating to the introduction of Universal Credit when I saw the tweets by Aideen Jones, the Chief Executive of Southdown Housing Association, regarding members of the Bullingdon Club who allegedly burnt a £50 note in front of someone begging on the streets of Oxford. (26/02/13: Please note I have removed a link to the original article on another blog which has itself been removed).

Aideen is right to point out that £50 could have bought 40 pairs of thermal socks for homeless people.

Of course people will make a connection between this obscene flaunting of wealth by a group of rich boys. The Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Mayor of London, all were members of the Bullingdon Club during their misspent youth, but I imagine Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Johnson will today share the outrage felt by most reasonably minded individuals over this incident.

The thing that upsets me most about this incident is what it says about how homeless men and women are dehumanised by society. If the allegation is true, these Bullingdon Bullies are merely an extreme example, and are the rightful targets for the contempt of decent people. But this dehumanisation goes much wider, from the groups of lads who think it is funny to give someone sleeping rough a kicking on a Saturday night, or a drunken reveller relieving himself on someone sleeping in a doorway, or the security guard who pours a bucket of cold water over someone sleeping in a car park.

More extreme examples lead to the violent death of homeless people through assault or setting fire to a sleeping bag when the individual is asleep in it. Dropping a paving slab on the head of someone asleep on the beach or in a park is likely to do serious damage.

Yet this happens. What we need to do is to put an end to homelessness. A grand objective, but one that should be seen as historically important as the abolition of slavery or the ending of apartheid. This week, Homeless Link will be launching a manifesto aimed at seeing the end of homelessness in the UK by 2023. My colleague, Nikki Homewood, will be at the launch of this manifesto in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

But individually we can do something. In response to Aideen’s tweet, I will buy £50 of thermal underwear for homeless men and women who use First Base Day Centre. You, too, can help, either by buying something from Amazon using the First Base wish list on this link or for those of you who don’t wish to use Amazon, donations can be made direct to First Base through our Just Giving page.

But there is one other thing we can do. We can stop using the term ‘the homeless’, a phrase that dehumanises people. They are men and women, they are someone’s son or daughter, husband or wide, brother or sister, father or mother. They have names. They have hopes and aspirations, feelings and fears. I always try to refer to “homeless men and women”.

In South Africa, where I grew up under apartheid, the white rulers referred to “the blacks” who had second class status, and whose lives were valued less than those of white people. The murder of a black man and woman rarely attracted media attention, more rarely warranted a police enquiry. In the white community, black people had become dehumanised. Hopefully in Britain in 2013 we won’t allow the same to happen to homeless men and women.

BHT needs your help for something very exciting!

BHT’s Accommodation for Work Project has been shortlisted for a prestigious National Lottery Award. We are the only homelessness charity and the only Brighton (and also Sussex)-based service in our category “Best Voluntary/Charity Project”.

We need your vote! Public voting runs until 20th June at midday. To support the project please vote here

This project works with 18 homeless men and women at any one time to actively seek and secure employment and training. In the past year, 18 residents have found paid work, 9 have completed work placements, 15 have accessed education/training, and 7 have done voluntary work. The project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund in 2010.

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. The Accommodation for Work Project is one of ten semi-finalists for this category from the original 850 projects nominated. For further information please contact Nikki Homewood or the Project Manager, Bernadette Lynch or phone them on 01273 645400.