Update on Homeless Strategy and Review

Work has commenced on a review of homelessness, which will inform the development of a new homelessness strategy for Jersey. 

The review and strategy is being prepared collaboratively between the Government of Jersey, voluntary and community organisations and housing providers. The strategy is seeking to identify the scope and nature of homelessness in Jersey and outline an agreed approach to tackling and preventing homelessness. 

It is anticipated that the homelessness review and strategy will be completed by early 2020. The project follows a community workshop held in December 2018 when organisations involved in homelessness support came together to discuss the causes and extent of homelessness in Jersey. 

The project will be overseen by a newly created, independent Strategic Board, which will bring together professionals from the public, charitable and private sectors. The Board will be independently chaired by Simon Burgess, a Chartered Surveyor and managing director at Ocorian, a Jersey headquartered international financial services business, who are also supporting the project. 

Simon Burgess said:

“I am delighted to be able to support this project and help the valuable work being undertaken already by community groups in the Island. Over the next twelve months, the Strategic Board will be focusing on reviewing the extent of homelessness in Jersey and the size of the challenge. The Board will then use the findings of the review to develop a strategy for tackling homelessness, including an agreed set of actions that can be taken forward”. 

As one of the first actions of the review, a Homelessness Cluster has been set up. The Cluster will provide an opportunity for local organisations and agencies involved in homelessness support to come together and discuss the issue of homelessness in Jersey, further develop existing relationships and explore opportunities for enhancing working practices. 

Simon Burgess added:

“We recognise that a wide range of organisations help homeless households on a daily basis in providing accommodation, support and advice. This project is all about recognising the work that is already happening to understand how that can be strengthened and build upon it collaboratively”. 

An independent consultancy, Arc4, has been appointed to support the delivery of the project. Arc4 has extensive experience of homelessness issues and of researching housing services and markets through analysis of key information and meaningful community engagement. 

The Shelter Trust, the leading provider of accommodation and support services for homeless people in Jersey, is one of many community organisations involved in the project. 

Guy Le Maistre, the Vice Chair of Shelter said:

“The Shelter Trust welcomes this initiative to bring all interested groups together to review this important issue and find ways to improve the support and services available to people who find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness. There is currently a lack of empirical data as to the causes of homelessness so obtaining this information will be a key part of the project to inform the Strategic Board.”

The homelessness review and strategy is being supported by the Minister for Children and Housing, Senator Sam Mézec. The Minister said:

“Tackling homelessness was one of the priorities I set out when I became Minister for Children and Housing. I do not underestimate the challenges we will face, but I hope this is the first step in a programme of work to understand the extent and nature of homelessness in Jersey, as well as setting out a strategic vision for how we can tackle the issue together.

“Clearly, Government has a central role to play in tackling homelessness and we will be taking a central role in this project. We will not shy away from any challenging findings or recommendations. The workshop last December has already highlighted the immensely positive and essential work that is undertaken by a wide range of organisations, and we want to build on this and deliver this project collaboratively so that it feels truly owned by the community”.

An Island-wide survey is being undertaken to collect information and experiences from both organisations and individuals. The Strategic Board anticipates that this will provide vital information and evidence of the challenges that are being faced every day by people in the community. 

Simon Burgess said:

“The results of this survey will be hugely valuable to the Strategic Board in drawing up its conclusions and recommendations. Individuals and organisations can take part in the survey or simply contact us to share their views and experiences, via our website (www.homelessnessforum.je)”