The Brent Homeless Users Group seeks to enable homeless people with the skills required to lead independent lives. They also engage in educational work within local schools to increase awareness about homelessness.
The Brent Homeless Users Group (B-HUG) is a user-led organisation which aims to give homeless people a voice and tries to enable them to help themselves. B-HUG also aims to prevent and raise awareness of homelessness by providing information and support.
B-HUG works around 3 areas:
• User involvement: enabling homeless people to have a say in the way services are delivered and designed.
• Prevention and awareness: Supporting homeless people to deliver educational sessions in schools to ensure young people are aware of both the realities of homelessness and the help available.
• Capacity building: pre-employment support to homeless people by providing them with the skills necessary to adjust to the workplace.
B-HUG carries out its aims through five main initiatives:
• Community Research: offers consultancy and research services to organisations around homelessness and social inclusion, while delivering self-development opportunities to homeless people.
• Community Insight: gives a voice to homeless people and includes them in improving service provision to homeless people. B-HUG is a social enterprise managed and run by homeless people, increasing their skills and confidence.
• Exchange visits: B-HUG have organised six service providers to visit each other within the Brent area. The visits have been extremely useful in increasing their mutual understanding.
• Homelessness Road Shows: run by B-HUG in youth clubs and secondary schools in Brent. The aim is to inform young people, who are at turning points in their lives, about the realities of homelessness. They are also made aware of the support available to them, should they find themselves in a situation that can lead to them being homeless. The Homelessness Road Show seeks to increase awareness and is delivered by people who have a personal experience of homelessness.
• The Empty Homes Campaign: aims to encourage Brent Residents to report empty properties to the council, using a stamped addressed postcard (to Brent Council) to deliver this message.
• Interpreting courses: teaching homeless people a second language, and the skills and knowledge required to become community interpreters.
• 10 people have successfully completed the interpreting course.
• Over 1,000 students from secondary schools in Brent have participated in the B-HUG Homelessness Road show leading to a reduction of around 40% in young people approaching the council for housing.
This article was originally submitted by Kerry Ryan but has since been adapted.
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