Solo Housing East Anglia

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Solo Housing East Anglia is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

CEO:Carolyn Howell MBE
A three bed flat on Victoria
Road, Diss
Solo Housing (East Anglia) Ltd provides a range of
accommodation options for single people. They help a
variety of people, from those who simply need affordable
accommodation to those who need regular help to overcome
barriers that may be preventing them from finding and
sustaining accommodation. CEO Carolyn Howell MBE tells
TheParliamentary Review
about the housing services provided
and how they have adapted to austerity and the impact this has
on the local authorities they work with.
We were established in 1985, with our head office in Diss, Norfolk. One of our
housing solutions is providing housing-related support for single people, many of
whom have previously been homeless.
We are contracted by both Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils to provide a total
of 105 bed spaces of housing-related support accommodation. The accommodation
comprises a range of options, including one-bed flats, two- or three-bed shared
accommodation, a seven-bed hostel and a six-bed sharedhouse.
For single people who simply need somewhere to stay we deliver a lodging scheme.
The scheme matches individuals with spare rooms in their houses with those who
are seeking somewhere settled and affordable to stay. We work with the lodging
landlord to match them to a single person and we can support both the landlord
and the lodger throughout their stay on any issues that may arise
Our lodging scheme operates in Norfolk and Suffolk and recently expanded into
Essex. The service is funded by our local authority partners: South Norfolk, Babergh,
»CEO: Carolyn Howell MBE
»Established in 1985
»Based in Diss, Norfolk
»Services: Supported
accommodation, lodgings and
general needs accommodation
»No. of employees: 22
Solo Housing East
Highlighting best practice
Mid Suffolk, East Suffolk, Colchester
and Breckland councils. On average,
we have over 180 lodging bed spaces
and work with around 130landlords.
In Lowestoft, we work in partnership
with East Suffolk Council to provide
the housing management of an
exemplar HMO, the local authority
having refurbished a former
poor quality HMO to provide six
independent rooms with shared
facilities. The project demonstrates
how to provide good-quality houses of
multiple occupation.
Focusing on single individuals
At present, we focus on single people
in housing need. Single people can
often face the biggest challenges in
terms of accessing accommodation.
Many single people are not deemed as
in priority need within the legislative
requirements of the local authority,
and this can mean they have no duty
to provide settled accommodation. We
focus specifically on rural areas, where
the challenges in accessing suitable
accommodation for single people can
be more pronounced.
Our services provide a pathway
approach; we assess each individual
to determine the most suitable
accommodation needed. If they have
minimal support needs, we would
place them in a lodging scheme or a
single flat. If they do require support,
we would look to place them in
supported accommodation; if we have
no vacancies, we would look to refer
them to another provider. We have
developed mutual arrangements with
other local accommodation providers
to ensure that support can be
maintained if individuals want to move
from our accommodation to another
provider as part of their support
Our “outcome star” approach
The individuals we support have a
range of support needs and often
have a combination of issues that
they want to address. Whatever their
experience and issues, we never judge
and always aim to provide the highest
level of support. At the outset, we are
very clear about what our service offer
is. To achieve a positive outcome, it
is important that the individual wants
to address their issues. Our main goal
is to help people to turn their lives
around. We offer different levels of
support dependent on need.
Each staff member will work with the
individual using an “outcome star”
approach. This involves the individual
identifying up to eight key areas
that they would like to address. The
support worker will then work with the
individual to agree the actions to take
and to measure the level of progress
they have made towards this goal,
assessing where they are on a scale of
one to ten. The star provides a visual
progress picture that they can then
review periodically to gauge their own
Michael, resident of a
property in Sudbury
Our services
provide a
approach; we
assess each
individual to
determine the
most suitable
success and refocus the support plan
as needed.
The support we provide also enables
people to access other specialist
services, which may include healthcare,
mental health support, counselling,
substance misuse recovery, training
and relationship counselling. We
help our residents to prioritise their
issues and become familiar and
confident in accessing the services
they need to help them to sustain
their independence. We accommodate
people in properties dispersed
across the community, helping them
to reintegrate and adapt to the
requirements of day-to-day life, for
example paying bills and being a good
neighbour. Our residents understand
that supported accommodation is not
a permanent housing solution: our
average support programme lasts 18
months, but the period they spend
with us is tailored to their needs. It
is essential to co-design any support
action plan with our residents, helping
them to identify their issues and
become self-sufficient.
Adapting to austerity
Government austerity has had an
impact on local authority funding and
services and directly impacts our service
users. There have been significant
reductions in central government
grants to local authorities. As a result,
local authorities have struggled
to resource early intervention and
prevention services and have redirected
the resources they have to meet
their statutory responsibilities. The
removal of early intervention services
means people often reach crisis point
before they can be eligible for help.
For charities like ours, working on the
front line, we need to invest funding
and resources to pick up the pieces
where gaps in services exist and we
must continuously secure other sources
of income to meet unmet need.
In 2019, we secured European funding
to recruit a housing management
trainee. The post provides the
opportunity for someone who has
completed their time in supported
accommodation to join our team as an
Our business plan aspires to develop
general needs and move-on
accommodation provision.
In the past eighteen months, we
have fundamentally reviewed our
operating models, income and
expenditure and we have undertaken
a review of our rent setting policies
to maximise our revenues to ensure
we provide a value for money service,
which is sustainable and able to
respond to future challenges. To
develop sustainable services, we work
collaboratively with our local authority
partners and continue to support
their implementation of homelessness
prevention services and the delivery of
the Homelessness Reduction Act.
presents a
because of the
impact it has
on local
funding and
Exemplar house in
multiple accommodation
on London Road South,

This article was sponsored by Solo Housing East Anglia. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.