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Young People's Housing Support Worker

A careers information sheet for people interested in paid or voluntary work in the voluntary and community youth sector

April 2010 What's it like being a Young People's Housing Support Worker?

Leon Jackson

Floating Support Worker ­ St. Basils for 3 years St. Basils is a Birmingham-based charity working with young people to prevent youth homelessness by providing accommodation and support services. (www.stbasils.org.uk)

What do you do at work?

`I work with young people aged 16-25 who are moving from hostel accommodation to their own flat or are already in one. I support them to look for jobs, or to get into education or training ­ all things that will make it more likely they will keep the tenancy. One day I might be going shopping with them for furniture for their new flats or on another I can be in court all day just to give support. I support 12 young people at any one time. After arranging the viewing of a property, the young person, key worker and I check the property is suitable. I develop support plans with each person and help them with any issues like rent arrears. I also write up contact sheets, action plans and risk plans.'

What's so great about your job?

· Helping young people and seeing the change in them · Watching them better themselves · Seeing them make a bare flat into a home · Seeing the fruits of my labour

What's not so great about your job?

`Young people's moods and how they can take it out on you. It is also frustrating when they talk but don't take action. But it is important to keep persevering with them. I also get frustrated at the paperwork, but it is necessary.'

How did you get to be a Young People's Housing Support Worker?

`From the age of 13, I was a Junior Playworker in the City Council Playschemes. After my A-Levels, I did a Business and Personnel Diploma then a Business & Management Degree. When I couldn't find a job in business that would interest me, a member of my family who worked at St. Basils suggested I give it a go. I was offered a traineeship for one year through Path West Midlands. The traineeship was a mixture of learning through doing the job and training, including a NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care. At the end of the training I was offered a permanent contract. Since then I have taken full advantage of further training in subjects such as fire safety, sexual health and benefits.'

Where is this leading you?

`I am just taking on the role of Youth Development Worker, which will mean working with young people in a more general way. I would look to move into a management role in the future but still in the youth field.'

What are your hot tips for Young People's Housing Support Workers?

· Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons · You need a passion for working with young people · If you want to do it you will find a way to get into it

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Key Facts

What might be involved?

The work

There is a wide variety of housing-related jobs with young people. Depending on the organisation you work for, you could be providing services which are accommodationbased e.g. hostels or floating support services (which means supporting young people in a variety of locations e.g. in their own homes or on the streets). The work could include advice, support and the provision of emergency accommodation, supported housing, or outreach support to meet the needs of young people who are homeless, badly housed, or at risk of becoming homeless. You could be providing support to all young people with housing needs, or offering specialist support to specific groups of young people including substance users, care leavers, offenders, young people with mental health problems, refugees, and young parents. In this field of work, there are also lobbying, administrative and educational roles. Other duties could include: · assessing referrals · partnership working with other organisations · keeping accurate and up to date records of contact · evaluating the service · understanding and complying with health and safety and child protection legislation · become more self-confident · access education and training · rebuild family relationships

Pay and conditions

Working times and hours vary according to the role. Some jobs are mainly within office hours, while other roles might require evening and weekend work, or night shift work. There are full-time and part-time salaried posts available and some opportunities for hourly paid work too. Salaries start from around £17,000 (Source: www.connexions-direct.com) or from about £19,000 for qualified youth workers. Wages increase with greater levels of experience and responsibility.

Context

Depending on the role you could find yourself working in a variety of settings including: offices, night shelters, private homes, housing advice centres, street corners or supported accommodation. In a preventive role to support young people from becoming homeless, you might visit a range of places including schools and youth clubs.

Routes in

Personality, skills, interests and qualities

To do this work, you need to have good communication skills and a commitment to supporting vulnerable young people. Any of the following will also stand you in good stead: · project management experience · knowledge of housing law and the benefits system · understanding of the issues faced by vulnerable young people · knowledge of health and other support services · good numeracy and literacy skills · confidence in managing risk · the ability to challenge inappropriate behaviour and manage problems quickly calmly and sensitively

Responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary according to the context and client group, but might include supporting young people to: · keep their home · develop budgeting and other life skills · achieve greater independence · complete benefit claims · access appropriate services/treatment · develop opportunities to lead fulfilling lives

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Paid staff and volunteers working with young people should have an enhanced criminal record disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). In addition, if you want to work with young people or vulnerable adults from November 2010 you will need to apply to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority's Vetting and Baring Scheme. For more information go to www.isa-gov.org.uk/ and www.crb.homeoffice.gov.uk/. A driving licence will prove useful in this work.

Since September 2009, a new qualification called the Award or Certificate in Working with Vulnerable Young People at Levels 3 or 4 has been available. Or alternatively you can complete individual units e.g. support young people who are homeless or in debt. ABC Awards (www.abcawards.co.uk) is working with training providers to offer this qualification and the Open University (email: [email protected]) will be offering it too.

Where it could lead?

There are opportunities to progress into managerial positions, or to specialise e.g. in offering advice, education, training and employment support to young people or delivering services to specific groups. There are also strategic and lobbying roles available.

Learning pathway/experience/volunteering

There is no standard route into this career. Some people will come from housing backgrounds, others from a youth work background. Sometimes, in larger organisations it is possible to begin work in an administrative role and to develop the skills and experience to do face-to-face work with young people. There are many volunteering opportunities in this area of work, and volunteering provides an excellent means of gaining experience and developing skills. Advice on how to find a volunteer placement can be found at www.ncvys.org.uk >> training >> careers and volunteering.

Food for thought

In recent years the numbers of people living in temporary accommodation has increased dramatically. There are many and varied opportunities in this area of work. The salaries, pay and working conditions are equally varied.

Find out more

National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) www.ncvys.org.uk ­ the national network for the voluntary and community youth sector in England. The web page www.ncvys.org.uk >> training >> careers and volunteering, contains advice on how to find a volunteer placement, where to go for further careers advice and details of any funding sources to pay for training courses. Homeless Link www.homeless.org.uk/jobs ­ the national membership organisation for frontline homelessness agencies in England. The web page gives details of paid jobs and volunteering opportunities with Homeless Link and other homelessness organisations. Shelter www.shelter.org.uk ­ the housing and homelessness charity. Chartered Institute of Housing www.cih.org ­ the professional body for people involved in housing and communities.

Qualifications and training

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) www.cih.org/services/education/ accredits a range of housing-related qualifications. Shelter also provides training courses for people working in the housing sector >> http://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/ training_and_conferences/our_courses.

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References

In putting together the careers information sheet, a wide range of sources of information was used. In particular we would like to credit: Ask What If Careers Community Site: www.askwhatif.co.uk/home/careers/homelessness_ charity_worker/

Equal opportunities

If you require this information in different formats or have any other need, then please contact the workforce development officer at NCVYS. Please email [email protected] or ring 020 7278 1041.

Disclaimer

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information contained within this information sheet is accurate. However, the information has been compiled from a variety of sources and there may be errors or omissions. NCVYS and the consultants acting on behalf of NCVYS cannot accept responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material contained herein. If you are aware of any inaccuracies please email [email protected]

Thanks

This information sheet has been written for NCVYS by Alison Straker and Peter Miller and edited by Nichola Brown from NCVYS. Thanks go to the following individuals for their contributions: Leon Jackson, Steven Pryse from NCVYS and ENVOY ­ NCVYS's national youth forum.

3rd Floor Lancaster House 33 Islington High Street London N1 9LH T: 020 7278 1041 F: 020 7833 2491 E: [email protected] www.ncvys.org.uk

Registered charity no. 1093386 Registered company no. 4385383

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) is the independent voice of the voluntary and community youth sector in England. Our mission is to work with our members from voluntary and community organisations to build thriving communities and sustainable networks that help all young people achieve their potential.

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