Working in Partnership to Connect Communities and Services

Last year, seven of our residents were enlisted as ‘Experts by Experience’ to work with Northumbria University on a partnership project that set out to better help people experiencing homelessness.

They were in charge of a £10,000 innovation fund awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to set up projects for greater integrated care. The Experts by Experience reviewed project proposals put forward by Tyne Housing’s residents and support staff, seeing five projects launched – benefitting around 300 people all of whom had experienced homelessness. The projects developed by the Experts by Experience were:

  • Joseph Cowen Clothing Project – which allowed staff to provide visitors to the centre with warm clothing
  • Wilfred Street Training Kitchen Project – allowed Tyne to commission a training provider to deliver 2 Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food courses
  • Hope Project – which funded events and activities to provide participants with positive memories
  • Cycle Repairs – co-ordinated by a Tyne resident which provides residents with tools and parts to keep their bicycles in good repair and safe
  • Cycle Club Bikes – staff and groups of residents/visitors can access 6 pushbikes for group cycle rides etc.  

This initiative was part of a wider research project to bring together a range of support services, NHS providers and academics. Thanks to the success of this project, the partnership has been awarded an additional three years of funding from UK Research and Innovation.

The three-year project, led by Northumbria University, aims to expand on the initiative of better connecting the systems in place to support people at risk of homelessness, and expanding it to include creative health approaches such as arts, crafts, sports, gardening or cooking to provide holistic support tailored to individuals.

Six key organisations – Tyne Housing (us!), Groundswell, Alphabetti Theatre, Art Gene, Chilli Studios, and Helix Arts – have come together to collaborate on the project, forming a network of housing providers and creative groups, to spearhead the project. Supported by the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, the project will bring together health and care providers, housing associations and creative industries to provide better support for people experiencing homelessness.

The research will also receive support from two regional community interest companies, Media Savvy and Roots and Wings Design, broadening the project’s reach.

Speaking about the project, Steve McKinlay (CEO of Tyne Housing) said: “We’re proud to be working with all of these wonderful organisations so that, together, we can provide more opportunities for people who are isolated to connect, for people who feel excluded to be confident to come in”.

“We have always known homelessness is more than just a roof, and this 3 year project will help us show what is possible when we are able to look well beyond housing for the things that people need to avoid homelessness or move forward from it”.