Sustain UK

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sustain UK's best practice article

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 Sustain UK is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Pauline Hughes, CEO
Sustain Sports Day 2018
Founded in 2009, Sustain UK provides supported
accommodation for over 2,500 vulnerable adults. Adults
in their accommodation include individuals with mental
health problems, learning disabilities, forensic backgrounds,
drug and alcohol problems and those who are homeless,
across Birmingham and in the surrounding areas. CEO Pauline
Hughes discusses the crucial work Sustain carries out and
explains how she hopes to provide a safe home for everyone
who needs one.
Sustain operates by allowing approved providers to bring their properties under
the Sustain umbrella, in order to provide supported accommodation to vulnerable
adults; in our supported accommodation all individuals are given a minimum of
three hours’ support per week. This could include being prompted to maintain
personal hygiene, cook, take medication or be accompanied to appointments.
A number of our tenants are socially isolated and so their support worker is a
useful aid to help them reintegrate into society. Some of our tenants will rely on
Sustain to provide them with a home for life, whereas others are supported to
seek independent accommodation and get back into work – dependent upon their
individual needs.
A service built on high standards
As an organisation, we believe that vulnerable adults are entitled to live in a safe,
clean and comfortable home. Without these basic necessities, none of us would
be able to thrive. So that we can ensure that this is the case, we have developed
»CEO: Pauline Hughes
»Founded in 2009
»Based in Birmingham
»Number of employees: 90
»Services: Providing a home
for life for vulnerable people
marginalised in society
Sustain UK
Highlighting best practice
and continue to modify a complex
inspection process. In order to
become a Sustain home provider, an
applicant must first of all attend an
introductory seminar, they may or
may not be accepted dependent upon
various factors identified by myself
and my fellow senior directors. The
accommodation will be inspected
initially and a report given to them
for any work needing to be done.
If approved, we then inspect every
single property twice a year, one time
announced and once unannounced.
On top of this, each home provider
must attend support training, and
support folders for each tenant are
inspected as well as thehouses.
Along with the challenge of
maintaining high standards of
accommodation, also come
achievements. For example, Sustain’s
fire regulations actually supersede
our local authority’s fire regulations
for shared and supported housing.
Our specifications also supersede
that of the HMO (house of multiple
occupation) requirements. We are
very proud of our high standards as
an organisation, and we feel they
ensure our tenants the maximum
level of safety we can offer. In fact,
Birmingham City Council has made
positive comments regarding our
regulations and inspection system
on many occasions. We are also
recognised as having the Birmingham
charter for business, of which one
of the requirements is to pay the UK
living wage to all staff.
I have been in this industry for over
30 years, and coming from a family of
psychiatric nurses, have always been
acutely aware of the negative attitude
often taken towards people with
vulnerabilities, especially mental health
problems. Stigma is a massive issue and
we are trying our hardest to reduce it
the best we can. Our properties do not
have names or external signage and
are placed in the general community.
We find this important, as it truly
integrates the vulnerable adults under
our service into day-to-day living within
a community. This is just as care in the
community started to do over 30 years
ago, when those who had rightly or
wrongly been institutionalised were
reintroduced into the community.
Adam Barwell, Strategic
Sustain tenant
Elise Hughes, Director of
Training and Development
Along with the challenge of maintaining
high standards of accommodation,
also come achievements. For example,
Sustain’s fire regulations actually
supersede our local authority’s fire
regulations for shared and supported
Facing future challenges
Sustain has an invaluable staff team,
for which we have been commended
by Investors in People, having
achieved their gold award. We often
find that, despite always offering
our help to other services through
quickly accommodating individuals
when they need us, and by way of
our efficient referrals and placement
process, other services are at times
unable to assist as a result of being
underfunded and overstretched. If a
tenant has a relapse or becomes ill it
is hard for us to access the services
we require, including home treatment
teams and if necessary readmission
into hospital, even though we greatly
assist in reducing bed blocking. In one
instance, a consultant of ours carried
out a value-for-money analysis on
our behalf following the Capgemini
report, and it was calculated that for
every £1 spent on housing benefit,
Sustain makes a saving of £8.20 to
statutory services. On top of this we
also have acquired the ISO 9001 and
ISO 14001 accreditations. We are
concerned by the changes involving
housing benefit restrictions and
universal credit that are scheduled to
come into force in 2020, but we will
do everything we can to ensure we
are prepared and that the transition is
smooth and affects us and our tenants
as little as possible.
Another key obstacle we face is that
a number of the individuals seeking
accommodation do not have recourse
to public funds. We often house
these individuals and take on the cost
ourselves as part of our moral duty
to the vulnerable adults we serve;
however, these costs are not sustainable
and may reduce our ability to provide a
quality service in the future. The client
group itself can be problematic as well,
with many incidents occurring because
of drug and alcohol abuse, or paranoia
caused by a mental health illness. We
always try to take this in our stride and
we do our best to accommodate and
support individuals in need no matter
what, and this is one of the main
reasons I am so unbelievably proud
of the work my team and I partake in
every day. Sustain is not a “nine to five”
business; it is involved in people’s lives,
and that means we are an operation
dedicated to what we do, round the
clock, seven days a week.
At this moment in time our main aim
is to house as many homeless people
as we can. This is harder than you may
think, with many homeless people
scared to come into accommodation
out of fear of financial, sexual or
physical abuse. We want to show
people that there is a safe home out
there for everyone and we want to help
as many people as we possiblycan.
Sustain has an
staff team, for
which we
have been
by Investors in
People, having
achieved their
gold award
Another happy day out
with our tenants

This article was sponsored by Sustain UK. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy