Addressing Anti Social Behaviour in Emergency and Supported Housing in Brighton and Hove

Rachel Fitzpatrick is an MA Social Work student in the Department of Social Work at Sussex University. Prior to joining us on the programme Rachel worked as Caseworker for the Community Safety Case Work Team (CSCT) at Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC). Recently Rachel was nominated, and won, the Council’s Big Difference Award. Below she writes about the work that led to the award and what she’s learnt from both the project and the award.

Within my role as Caseworker for the CSCT I led on a project that worked with providers of Emergency and Supported Housing in the city to improve the management of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and reduce the harm it causes to local residents and the wider community.

The project began following a referral from a supported housing project where some of the tenants were causing ASB that had impacted on the local community. I worked closely with the project staff, delivered group sessions to the residents, worked with individuals identified as causing ASB and attended multi agency community meetings with affected local residents.

The success of this work, in reducing reports of ASB, led to a consideration of how it could function in other housing environments. The resources were collated and developed into training templates to be offered to staff and residents in a range of emergency and supported housing teams. Each time the package was delivered there were new challenges and intricacies that enabled the project to be developed further.

An important part of this project’s success was in building positive relationships with partner agencies such as, Sussex Police, Sussex Central YMCA, and the Emergency Placement Team (BHCC). The challenge here was to balance the needs and priorities of different agencies with that of community members and individual perpetrators whilst keeping in mind the overall aim of reducing ASB.

The project has been recognised by the Housing Commissioning services at BHCC as improving communication between local residents, the housing providers and BHCC and following the project a reduction of complaints about ASB from local residents have been noted. The CSCT has gone on to contribute to local policy on the prevention of eviction and the project has continued following my departure from the team.

Following this project I was nominated by my colleagues for the Council’s Big Difference Award. This award aims to recognise teams and individuals that have made a difference to the local community through innovative projects. Following a meeting with the Chief Exec of Brighton and Hove City Council this month, it was announced my team had won the award.

When I met the Chief Exec she asked ‘What motivates you?’ I found that my answer was surprisingly similar to that of other employees around the table who were from a range of disciplines and had varying levels of experience.

Common to the responses was autonomy: people valued good leadership and guidance but this had to be balanced with professional creativity and a feeling of agency in negotiating day-to-day decision making.

As a future Social Worker I feel there are some lessons to be learnt from this project and the subsequent award, which I would summarise as follows:
1. Effective partnership working can lead to better outcomes for services, individual service users and the wider community.
2. A holistic and creative approach is crucial to tackling and reducing the harm caused by ASB.
3. Practitioners can contribute and influence local policy and practice through their own work.
4. Recognition can further motivate staff and make them feel valued.
5. Feeling ownership and agency over practice is valued by staff from a variety of disciplines.

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November 5, 2012. Social work practice.

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