Mayor backs scheme to offer spare rooms to the homeless

Councillor Par Fraser
Councillor Par Fraser

The Mayor of Hebden Royd is backing a housing association’s campaign for people in the Calderdale area to offer their spare rooms to the homeless.

Councillor Pat Fraser has got involved with Horton Housing Association’s Supported Lodging scheme, which gives a young person who is homeless or at risk of homelessness a warm, safe place to live, support in preparing to live independently and the chance to look forward to the future.

Coun Fraser became a supported lodgings host two years ago.

The role appealed to her after a career of working with young people – she has been both a college lecturer and a classroom support assistant for children with special needs.

She has previously offered her spare room to overseas students from a local private school at weekends and holidays.

She said: “I wanted to give someone a home who needed to be surrounded by the support I could give them that I gave my own children. One of my friends told me about supported lodgings.”

After she got in touch with Horton, a support worker visited her at home and explained how the scheme worked and how she would be assessed to ensure she was happy and able to be a host. The assessment usually involves three meetings with a member of staff and a DBS check.

After a successful application, Coun Fraser was matched with a young person within a few weeks. She has now been living with a young person for 14 months and both are happy with the arrangement.

She said: “You’ve got to be tolerant and willing to talk things through, but I’ve also got to be far more assertive than I would be naturally. It’s a learning curve on both sides.

“I would recommend it. It’s very, very rewarding when I see the changes.”

Claire O’Neill, support co-ordinator for the Supported Lodgings scheme, said: “It’s great to see Pat and her lodger at home. It’s working for them and Pat is clearly enjoying her host experience.

“We would love to have some more people to join an already established small bank of hosts.

“Each host has something about them that can make a difference to a young person’s life.

“In return, we will give you support while you have your lodger, training and a fee.

“The role isn’t always easy, but our hosts really enjoy what they do and some have been in the role for a number of years with great success.”

For more details about becoming a supported lodging host, contact Claire O’Neill on 01422 385993 or claire.oneill@hortonhousing.co.uk.