Charitable housing association BCHA, a leading provider of services for people experiencing homelessness across the South West, is concerned to learn that Gabriel House in Exeter may be at imminent risk of closure.
Gabriel House provides accommodation and support for 42 people who would otherwise be at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping in Exeter. In the last year alone, 98 people have been housed at Gabriel House and provided with specialist support to develop independent living skills before moving on into independent accommodation.
Devon County Council is consulting on removing its contribution to the ‘Homelessness 18+ Prevention Fund’. This consultation ends on 19 April and proposes that funding will no longer be offered from 30 September. This essential funding supports a number of organisations engaged in homelessness prevention and currently includes support for customers at Gabriel House.
Caroline Moylan, Chief Operating Officer at BCHA, said that unless alternative funding can be identified to support Gabriel House, its removal will result in the loss of much needed supported housing provision. Caroline said: “This would place more than 40 people who have complex support needs at immediate risk of homelessness, with far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for homelessness and rough sleeping in Exeter. We appeal to Devon County Council to retain this vital funding lifeline, so the service can continue to support people who have experienced trauma as they rebuild their lives.”
Gabriel House has played a central role in preventing homelessness and rough sleeping in Exeter for more than 10 years. Employing 11 staff, residents are supported 24/7 to address health problems, develop life skills and work with other services to build support networks, before moving into sustainable accommodation.
Gabriel House customer Rebecca said: “I experienced homelessness but since moving into Gabriel House it has become my family. I had nothing but now I have a support network and friends, which has helped me to become independent and improve my confidence.
“The team at Gabriel House helped me to obtain therapeutic support and has provided training, opening up opportunities for the future. I now have a Level 2 certificate in Food Hygiene and I’m studying a Level 3 course in Management and Peer Mentoring. I have become a volunteer at Gabriel House which means I can support other people. Eventually I would like to work as a Housing Support Worker for BCHA.”
BCHA is working closely with stakeholders, commissioners and partners to try and identify a viable solution that will enable Gabriel House and other essential homelessness prevention services to remain open.
Please do input to the Devon County Council’s consultation before 19 April if you are concerned about the impact this funding reduction will have on Exeter residents.