A support service which assists people in Leeds to improve their housing situation and helps prevent them from becoming homeless is celebrating its first birthday.
Engage Leeds is the biggest support service in the city to aid those who are struggling with housing issues and may need extra help for issues such as mental health, dementia and substance use.
Riverside is one of four partners in a consortium which runs Engage Leeds, commissioned by Leeds City Council.
In its first year, the service as a whole has helped more than 3,000 people.
Within the Consortium, Riverside specialises in Peer Support and Volunteering. Feedback from people using the service is really positive.
One client said: “I’m a completely new person thanks to Debbie from Riverside. I have a home for my children and now have the confidence to provide for them.”
Catherine Donnelly, Riverside’s Area Pathway Manager for Engage Leeds, explains how the service works.
She said: “We work with people across the housing spectrum – housing associations, council housing, private rental sector and people who own their own home.
“We’ve been going from strength to strength since Engage Leeds was set up a year ago. We have worked together to consistently improve our service, offering hope and positive change for people who are struggling with their housing, along with additional help which may be required.
“Riverside has been able to help in 97% of cases where people have come to the service with a housing issue, and we have supported 96% of people to remain in their home – therefore helping to prevent the cycle of homelessness.
“As a consortium, we are really pleased with the great work we are doing to help prevent homelessness, and supporting people to achieve their goals and aspirations. Together we are achieving very positive outcomes, and the feedback from both clients and staff proves this.”
Currently Riverside has nearly 20 volunteers supporting Engage Leeds, including those with experience of the issues that the service supports people to manage.
One volunteer, Craig, is now working as a Housing Support Assistant under Riverside’s GROW employment scheme.
He said: “I wanted to volunteer with Riverside because I was doing a Level 3 Information, Advice and Guidance course and needed volunteering experience to get accredited. My goal was to get a job with the organisation that I was volunteering with. When I heard about this GROW position, I applied and here I am.
“My first week was insightful as you don’t see just how difficult some people’s lives can really be, and how much support they need to be able to get through it. I am glad that I will be able help others overcome similar challenges that I had in my life.”
If you are interested in volunteering for the service, please email [email protected].
To refer someone to receive help with housing support call 0113 380 7615 or email [email protected].