The United Nations (UN) set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, including the UK.
These goals are intended as rallying points and tangible goals to help us to improve our world for all who share it, from an environmental, social and industrial perspective.
At Harbour Housing we believe that our work is important for the improvement of people’s lives as well as communities, but it goes beyond this.
What we do has a much wider impact, and this is why we are committed to making the right choices wherever possible, even if they are not the most popular, to do our bit to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
It is up to each individual, company, organisation and charity to do their bit to improve the planet, and these are some of the ways that we at Harbour Housing are doing our bit.
This is the goal that aligns most closely with our core purpose as a charity. We provide housing and support to those experiencing homelessness and this goes a long way to tackling poverty.
Many of those who come to us have been homeless in one form or another for many years, and this often comes hand in hand with poverty.
We support those who are able into work through our various training programmes such as Harbour Firesafe and skill building courses, and this can help them to improve their livelihoods and sustain themselves past the support we offer.
This is not always possible for people with complex needs which prevent them from work, and in these cases we can help them to understand which benefits they are eligible for and how to access them.
Food poverty is a rising issue in the UK, and even if someone experiencing homelessness can receive enough donated food, it is often of a low nutritional value and does little to abate hunger.
Upon arrival every resident receives a welcome pack which comes with a bag of food essentials. We also have a really good relationship with the local food bank who can support residents with anything they are missing for the duration of their stay.
At our main property Cosgarne Hall we offer a home cooked meal every day for residents in exchange for a meal ticket which can be purchased at a small cost, or earned through volunteering or engaging in activities.
It is important to us that no resident goes hungry, but also that they are supported to have a healthy, balanced diet which is why our meal plan is carefully arranged to provide maximum nutrition, and supplemented with vegetables grown in our own gardens.
Good Health and Wellbeing
Having a roof over your head, easy access to food, running water, washing facilities and a safe environment goes a long way to improving health.
One of the first things we do when residents arrive is support them to register with their GP and assess any health concerns, as rough sleeping in particular has an incredibly negative impact on health and wellbeing.
We accept individuals with incredibly complex needs and multiple disadvantage which can often mean that they struggle with addiction and mental health issues, so we make sure that their support plan is adjusted to these needs in order to optimise health and wellbeing.
We have a good relationship with local health professionals, often inviting NHS frontline staff on site, and hold a monthly liver clinic in partnership with Addaction and the NHS in our dedicated nurses station.
Mental health a particular focus of ours, with counselling and wellbeing activities a key part of each individual’s personal support plan.
Many people who find themselves experiencing homelessness have had Adverse Childhood Experiences which have contributed to difficulties in later life. This sometimes means that people who come to us have had sporadic education and missed out on several things taken for granted by most of us.
We offer lots of education based training on site such as Rights and Responsibilities courses and Pre-Tenancy Training which covers things such as civic duty, health and safety, tenants rights and money management.
Residents also have the opportunity to take IT courses, Food Hygiene Level 2 and a sprinkler installation course.
As well as this residents are encouraged to pursue external education, with residents regularly taking courses at the local college including hair dressing, animal care and basic maths and english.
One of our residents was recently supported to complete a degree through the Open University, demonstrating that Supported Accommodation is no barrier to academic excellence.
Gender equality is something we have been really focusing on recently. We found that we had an incredibly small number of females in our service as they were often deemed to be too vulnerable for our environment.
We have worked on this and adapted various aspect of our service to ensure that we could offer the appropriate support to vulnerable females experiencing homeless, either with multiple disadvantage or who were escaping abuse.
We now have dedicated properties for females and a tailored service which takes into account the uniquely female perspective on homelessness including partnership with Street Cramps the female hygiene organisation, intensive staff training on dealing with domestic abuse and female centred health provisions such as breast health awareness.
Clean Water and Sanitation
This is a real issue for people rough sleeping, particularly with the rising trend of locking public toilets overnight or charging per use.
Our residents have plenty of access to safe water with taps in rooms and a kitchen, bathroom and toilet shared between about four residents.
Facilities are of a high quality and regularly visited by our on site cleaner, and residents are provided with essential hygiene items upon arrival.
Affordable and Clean Energy
We are conscious of our energy use and have an electric car which is used for outreach work and attending meetings.
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Residents are supported into work through skills based training, with our Harbour Firesafe scheme particularly beneficial to those taking part, as it supports them into work which pays above the living wage in a sector that is only going to get bigger.
As a business we also support the local economy as we are privileged as a small charity to be able to control where we spend our money.
An analysis of our spending over the last year revealed that we spend over £1.1 million annually within 50 miles of St Austell, with nearly 70% of that within just 25 miles.
We were acknowledged by Western Morning News as being one of the fastest growing businesses in the South West in 2017, and this is testament to our efforts to ensure business sustainability and improvement.
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
We believe that someone’s home should be something that they can take pride in, so have committed to an ambitious building renovation project across all of our properties which has resulted in a marked improvement in infrastructure.
Innovation is key to our ethos as a charity, and we are always looking for ways that we can adapt our service to suit the clients, and our approach was recognised by Charity Bank in 2015 when we were awarded the Innovation Award for our Naloxone project.
Those experiencing homelessness often receive unequal treatment and face barriers to support and acceptance.
This is exacerbated for those with multiple disadvantage which can include mental or physical health issues, a history of offending or struggles with addiction.
We see beyond the complex needs to the person and give them the help and support they need to thrive as well as the tools to develop their independence.
Sustainable Cities and Communities
We think that sustainability is important in recovery from homelessness as the revolving door of homelessness is a serious issue and habits born of a lifetime can be hard to break.
We do not just give someone a place to stay, we give them the support they need to personally develop and find their place in society.
Through various outreach schemes we support people even after they leave us, and this focuses heavily on engagement with the community and integration with local networks.
Responsible Consumption and Production
We are very aware of our waste and try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.
We receive lots of items for residents from the amazing St Blazey Recycle, Reuse, Resale service and much of our food is kindly donated by super markets and local groups and businesses which prevents it going to landfill.
We also grow our own food which is used in the kitchens and distributed amongst residents.
We are incredibly environmentally conscious and try to be aware of how our actions have a wider environmental impact.
Where we can we make positive changes for the planet including using an electric car, recycling where we can, growing our own food, and going on regular litter picks in the community.
Life Below Water
Our #RoadToGlasto2019 project involved regular litter picks along river walkways, costal paths and beaches which prevented rubbish from making its way into our waterways and harming marine wildlife.
Life On Land
We have a smallholding on site where residents can learn about caring for animals, which has lead to one of our residents choosing to pursue an animal care course at the local college.
We also have many dedicated wildlife areas on site and use recycled paper in all of our printers which saves trees and prevents habitats from being destroyed.
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Our residents learn their rights and responsibilities in a course run on site which encourages them to be more engaged with local government and institutions.
Through housing and supporting people they are also less likely to be pushed into dangerous situations such as rough sleeping, sofa surfing or struggling with an unmanaged addiction which can often result in petty crime including theft and begging.
Our Tenancy Sustainment Officers also support vulnerable people to seek justice from their perpetrators through the criminal justice system.
Partnership for the Goals
While we understand our duty to do what we can for all of these goals, we also know that we cannot do it alone.
We work closely with lots of amazing organisations who are also contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, including but by no means limited to the police, NHS, Safer Cornwall, Addaction, St Petrocs, Street Cramps and DISC Newquay.
It is really beneficial to view our organisation through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals as it can help us to see where we can be doing more, and guide our efforts to make our community and the world at large a better place.