The broadening of Framework’s focus from Nottingham to Nottinghamshire has been an underlying theme in the development of housing, the creation of homelessness prevention services and the growth of training and employment services. Since 2010 that focus has widened again to include premises and services beyond Nottinghamshire’s borders.
The twin drivers of Framework’s expansion have been:
- • its status as a registered social landlord which has permitted an ambitious capital development programme
• the Supporting People programme, and particularly the opportunity presented by Transitional Housing Benefit in 2002/03, to establish new services across Nottinghamshire.
At the time of the merger in 2001 both Macedon and NHHA had already begun to explore beyond their Nottingham bases. The connections established by the two charities, particularly with local authority housing departments, proved complementary – Macedon in Bassetlaw, Gedling and Newark & Sherwood and NHHA in Ashfield and Mansfield.
This local support was invaluable in enabling the development of new services in 2002/03 and in endorsing Framework’s capital programme to establish a pathway of accommodation services.
The focus of Framework’s 2001-2006 Business Plan was on consolidating the operation of the merged organisation: though capital developments were planned, those in Nottingham came first. However the Business Plan for 2003/08 picked up the earlier ambition:
“A strategic priority is to enhance the range and quality of services in the County Districts, thus providing a local response to local needs and offering all clients a pathway towards resettlement in their home area.”
“Framework is particularly good at responding to local needs and now has a very strong presence on the ground in our area. Framework’s approach is not only about providing accommodation for people in need, but supporting them to enable them to move back into independent housing. It is literally a case of taking someone who is at their lowest point and helping them until they are able to stand on their own feet again.”
However the Plan reflected the realisation that a variety of interests and viewpoints would need to be addressed:
“Local communities may have concerns about the impact of new services, especially if they fear an influx of people whose behaviour might be considered anti-social. Our task is to challenge prejudice while addressing any genuine concerns. We need to highlight the role of good quality housing, support, treatment and training services in stabilising individuals and communities, reducing crime and contributing towards regeneration.”
The 2003/08 Business Plan had a strong focus on capital development, however the focus of its successor – the Corporate Plan 2007/12 – was different: building on “a successful merger” it lists among Framework’s major achievements “the geographical expansion of services beyond the City of Nottingham – Framework now works in every Nottinghamshire borough and district”.
Winning the Housing Corporation’s 2006 Gold Award for Excellence in Tackling Homelessness provided national recognition for Framework’s expertise and experience. This affirmation gave Framework the confidence and credibility to offer its model of support more widely: the Supporting People commissioning process, by then in operation across all local authorities, provided the opportunity.
Nevertheless it took immense effort and persistence before Framework won work outside Nottinghamshire. The first tenders were submitted to Hull City Council in 2006 however it was 2009 before Framework was awarded its first contracts – for accommodation and floating support services in Derbyshire: the service was operational in 2010. Early in 2011 Framework opened its first service in South Yorkshire – a floating support service in Doncaster for recovering drug users.
Framework’s reputation as a developer of specialist accommodation also provided opportunities outside Nottinghamshire:
- • In 2008 Framework was selected by the NHS in both Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to provide highly specialised accommodation for people with severe learning disabilities: this has opened progressively since 2010.
• Following speedy development of a housing scheme for the National Treatment Agency in Nottinghamshire Framework was invited to develop a similar scheme which opens in Gainsborough in September 2011.
“In 2008 Department of Health funding via the National Treatment Agency gave the DAAT the chance to set up a network of dedicated accommodation for recovering drug users across Nottinghamshire to be operational by 1 April 2009. The deadline was tight; the funding package was not complete and no sites had been identified. Almost uniquely across England the county now has these services in place – and it’s entirely thanks to Framework’s special ‘can do’ spirit that this is the case.”
The first recognition outside Nottinghamshire of Framework’s dual expertise in capital development and support provision came in Lincoln in 2010: the City of Lincoln Council appointed Framework as its development partner for the £2.6m emergency accommodation project initiated by the Lincoln charity The Nomad Trust; Framework was subsequently chosen as the service provider.
A pathway of supported accommodation and a safety net of prevention services has been developed in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire during the decade: while the volume of county accommodation increased, it was the development of homelessness prevention services that drove the substantial increase in activity in the county – as shown in the graphs below. A mission to share a successful model of support more widely led Framework to venture beyond Nottinghamshire’s borders and the base for a wider presence has now been established.
Number of people accommodated or using floating support services (2001–2011)*
“Framework does not shy away from the difficult issues. Their determination and skill in community engagement was key to the success of Elizabeth House which provides accommodation and support for single homeless people. Framework’s commitment to assisting those experiencing housing and associated problems makes them a valuable partner in any community.”
“The Nomad Trust found themselves with no choice but to go into partnership with an RSL in developing their £2.6m Places of Change project for the homeless. Framework have proved ideal partners – helpful, trustworthy, honest and very supportive in our plans to develop complementary services. Bureaucracy has been a blessing in disguise!”
“Since late 2009 Framework have been involved with the development of the Places of Change Hostel in Beaumont Fee, Lincoln. Framework have brought their vast experience to the table on homelessness management which has proved invaluable in the operational management of the new hostel in association with the Nomad Trust.”
“We have excellent support from Framework Housing who have kept strong communication links with us and we value the professional service they offer to our young people. In my experience this housing support has far exceeded the services provided by other housing trusts.”