Research by Crisis (2015) puts the individual cost of homelessness in the UK for 12 months at £20,128 while successful intervention costs £1,426.
Evidence shows that individuals who experience homelessness for three months or longer cost on average £4,298 per person to NHS service, £2,099 per person for mental health services and £11,991 per person in contact with the criminal justice system (Better than cure?, 2016).
And, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of homelessness across the UK. The success of ‘Everyone In’ campaign demonstrates that given the mandate and funding, councils working with their partners have the means to end the vast majority of homelessness.
Let’s BeFriends is a voluntary befriending service successfully supporting individuals under pressure of homelessness to live in their own home and ultimately keep their tenancy, especially those with multiple and complex needs. The service is designed for flexibility of support and for as long as it is needed. Recovery takes time and varies by individual needs and experience.
What is unique are the individuals who volunteer as befrienders and members of the management committee. We all have lived experience of the pressures of homelessness and recovery. This is to challenge the stigma and discrimination as well as breaks the code of silence that typically surrounds this issue letting others in homelessness and recovery know they are not alone.
What makes the most difference is our befriender volunteers choose to spend time with the befriendee, rather than it being a professional or family obligation to do so. The befriending is additional to the support package that individuals receive from statutory services complementing and enhancing rather than replacing any paid support.