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SNG and Shelter partner to prevent avoidable evictions

Today Sovereign Network Group (SNG) is announcing a new partnership with the homeless charity Shelter to prevent avoidable evictions and to support customers to re-engage with the housing provider.

The new partnership, which is a relative first within the sector, comes at a time when homelessness is rising.  It also follows the publication of a 2021 Shelter report which cited ‘non-engagement’ as one of the leading cause of evictions from social housing.

First implemented in Devon as part of a trial, the initiative with Shelter has proved so successful with more than 75% of people reengaging, that it is now being rolled out across the South and South West of England. As a result, SNG will be able to refer customers who live in these areas, and who choose not to engage, to Shelter.

By using their independence to build positive relationships, the partnership aims to build a sense of trust and support customers to re-engage. It will also help to resolve any disputes and ensure that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities.

The specific strategies used by Shelter will vary depending on the local context and the needs of the customer involved. But they’ll actively reach out to customers who have been hard to contact to make them aware of the full range of support available from the housing provider. This includes help finding employment, debt advice and details of grants which may be available. Advisers will make contact using a variety of channels such as phone calls, emails, letters, and in-some cases home visits.

Once referred, customers will have access to even more resources including financial counselling and housing advice. Working in this way, the partnership will help to address any underlying issues that may have contributed to the initial breakdown in communication.

Goals of the new partnership are to create an environment where customers feel comfortable reengaging, leading to improved living conditions, increased tenant satisfaction, and ultimately, more stable tenancies.

SNG is funding this partnership over a two-year period and expects to support approximately 150 people in the first year alone. There is scope to roll the service out to other areas subject to the year one performance. 

Jon Cox, Head of Tenancy Sustainment at SNG: “We recognise that sometimes no matter how hard and sensitively we try customers may feel overwhelmed and unable to communicate with us when tenancy issues arise.

“As one of the first initiatives of its kind in the sector, this partnership will support our customers to live well and sustain their tenancy when they otherwise may not be able to.”

Erica Watts, Head of Employment and Skills at SNG said: “As a housing association that is all too aware of homelessness and how damaging it can be, we’re pleased to be scaling up what works to deliver real, long-lasting impact. By being innovative in our approach and thinking differently, this new partnership will help us to continue putting our customers and their wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.”

Stuart Francis-Dubois, Strategic Lead at Shelter said: “We're delighted to announce our partnership with SNG, aimed at providing invaluable support to some of their tenants during their times of need.

“By offering free, independent legal advice, we want to help people navigate their housing challenges and ultimately preventing evictions. Together, we are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of SNG’s tenants.”