integrationThree social care organisations have come together to form a partnership to provide supported accommodation for people with mental health issues in Rochdale.

The partnership is led by adult health and social care charity Making Space and includes Blue Pits Housing Action and Next Step Supported Housing. The organisations will work together to provide accommodation and support for people with severe and enduring mental health issues. 

The £250,000, 2-year contract will offer increased opportunities for tenants, staff and volunteers despite significant funding cuts, thanks to the collaborative nature of the bid. 

Fifty-nine 1-bedroomed supported housing units, which are owned by St Vincent's Housing Association, Contour Homes, Blue Pits and Next Steps will be managed jointly by the partners, who will draw on a pool of experienced and trained support workers to provide 24-hour support.

The support for tenants at Howard Place, Haweswater Mews and Union Street is delivered on a person-centred recovery basis, with an emphasis on helping people to move towards independent accommodation. Tenants receive regular support and are given assistance with tenancy and housing related issues as well as life skills.

“With increased need and dwindling funding, we have to think very creatively in order to maintain or enhance the services we offer,” said Carol Garrett, Making Space’s area manager for Rochdale.  

“When Rochdale [Borough] Council was hit with big budget cuts, the commissioners had no choice but to put all the mental health services out to tender. By coming together in this partnership and pooling our resources to deliver support for tenants, share staff training and recruit volunteers, we are able to make a significant impact on costs and expenses.

“This way of working had its challenges; we’d been competitors in the same field, so it took a huge leap of faith in order to share the information that was required. 

“But by agreeing that transparency was key, and establishing a communications protocol, we’ve been able to make it work. And, by working together, we have the opportunity to share good practice and deliver many, many years of experience in supporting the recovery of people with severe and enduring mental health issues and helping them to achieve independence.”

Blue Pits Housing Action’s service manager, Lynn Collins, added: “This added value partnership is founded on shared values, trust and a desire to work collaboratively to enhance the high quality, specialist support and accommodation services that we all provide currently. We are thrilled to be working with Making Space and Next Step, two highly regarded and forward thinking specialist organisations.  By sharing resources, expertise and local knowledge, we envisage continued and greater successful outcomes for the people we support in Rochdale, Middleton and Heywood.” 

Stephen Gethin-Jones, a director at Next Step, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for our organisation, with its local knowledge and skills, to be able to work with a prestigious national charity in order to develop more effective support to individual experiencing mental distress.”

Neil Meadowcroft, Rochdale Borough Council’s head of strategic commissioning, said: “This is a visionary new partnership that will ensure the continued investment in local mental health services. Local agencies will work together to provide high-quality support and accommodation for people across the borough with mental health issues.”