As part of our regular Charity Spotlight series we talk to Rachel Hall, Deputy CEO of Loughborough-based Falcon Support Services – a charity offering supported accommodation and community support to the homeless.
If you would like to take part in a Charity Spotlight and showcase your charity, get in touch now.
Q1. What does your charity do?
Falcon Support Services is a charity providing supported accommodation and community projects to those that are homeless, at risk of homelessness or vulnerable across Leicestershire. We have 97 bed spaces preventing rough sleeping and enabling people to stabilise and plan, with an allocated support worker, their future.
We have a day centre called The Drop In that delivers open access support to anyone. Having services with no referral routes means we remove the barriers many people face in accessing services. In addition, we have a specialist support service for sex workers called The Annex, providing personalised support, encouraging harm reduction and positive lifestyle choices.
We receive 454 referrals a year for accommodation and received 7,215 visits to our Drop In in the last 12 months. Whether through outreach, support in our Drop In or within our Support Accommodation schemes all service users receive intense support to address their underlying support needs and help them to gain permanent housing, achieving independent living within their community.
Q2. What is your role within the charity?
I am Deputy CEO, overseeing daily operations, fundraising and communications working with a dedicated management team to deliver vital services to those in need. My role is to work closely with the CEO who leads the strategic vision of the charity, making sure our services are responsive to community needs.
Q3. What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
The most rewarding part of the role is being able to provide services and a knowledgeable staff team that ultimately change people’s lives. Seeing the transformation people go through from crisis to independence makes me happy.
Q4. Where can people find out more about your charity?
Q5. What are the future plans for Falcon Support Services?
Falcon Support Services intends to expand its supported accommodation and community services further across the County so that those in need have access to services in their local areas. This ensures when people become homeless they don’t have to access accommodation or support away from their established support networks.
Q6. How has your charity been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We have seen significant increase in demand for services, with homelessness referrals increasing by 56%. Many of those that were previously ‘hidden homeless’ such as sofa surfing were unable to source accommodation during lockdown and the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme put additional pressure on Local Authorities and accommodation providers such as ours. This equated to a referral being received every 0.6 days and someone new moving in every 1.4 days.
During COVID there has been an impact on staffing, with challenges in staff recruitment and members of staff shielding. Budgets were initially impacted in the early months with changes in predicted income and increased operational costs such as paying for additional cleaning, shielding staff and purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Q7. Are you still providing all of your services? Have you had to adapt any?
We are still providing all our services. Being one of the only front-line services working face to face with people, the team have been truly amazing and working additional hours to allow rough sleepers to access phones and helping to source them emergency temporary accommodation through the Local Authorities.
Our Supported Accommodation projects have continued to operate fully staffed with COVID-safe operating procedures. Our team has been truly amazing, during COVID the team have worked hard to open 4 new houses, increasing bed spaces available to the homeless by 20% pre-COVID and expanding the provision of accommodation for the homeless within the county has meant we have helped 37% more people.
COVID-19 has made it particularly difficult to run community services which resulted in us having to adapt services, reducing capacity to only allowing one person in at a time and the following safety measures in place; temperature checks, PPE, additional cleaning, hand sanitiser, screens. We have taken on significant building work to provide COVID-secure community spaces thanks to funding received from Government grants and donors.
Q8. Are you currently fundraising or holding virtual events/activities?
We are in our 20th Anniversary Year and are encouraging people to raise funds for the charity. As an organisation we pride ourselves on going above and beyond and many of the services we provide are not funded. For example, assisting people with rent in advance and deposits for properties, getting formal identification documents so they can access bank accounts and housing registers, helping furnish properties when they move into their forever homes. Having funds to support the service users and charity changes lives.
For our 20th Anniversary we have number of ways people can assist:
20 Miles for 20 Years
We’re asking for as many people as possible to sign up and take part in our 20 Miles for 20 Years challenge, to raise vital funds for the homeless and vulnerable in our community. It’s completely up to you how you choose to complete your challenge – you could walk, run, cycle or even skip your way to the finish line. Set the pace high and complete your 20 miles all in one go, or take it steady and spread them over your own time period or work as a team with your friends or colleagues to complete a relay race.
We’d love to support you and hear all about how you’re completing the 20 Miles for 20 Years challenge – please keep us updated every step of the way and share your photos with us by emailing direct to me so I can put on social media.
Upon completion of 20 Miles for 20 Years you will receive a certificate and medal.
The first steps…
- Sign up here: https://www.falconsupportservices.org.uk/Event/20-miles-for-20-years – Please share any social media posts and encourage friends and family to sign up.
- Set up your own online fundraising page here: Create a fundraising page | Falcon Support Services or use Virgin Money Giving which you can access here Fundraising for Charities – Virgin Money Giving
- Download and print a paper sponsorship form here: pdf
Please note: We kindly ask you to stay safe and follow COVID-19 Government guidelines when completing your 20 Miles for 20 Years challenge. Thank you.
Q9. How can the public help you right now?
We regularly update our Donate Goods page on our website: https://www.falconsupportservices.org.uk/donating-goods
Share on social media your act of kindness with #Donate20.
Our 20 Year Appeal for online donations is here: https://www.falconsupportservices.org.uk/Appeal/falcon-support-services-turns-20
Text 20FALCON to 70085 to donate £20 or text 20FALCONNOINFO if you do not wish to receive marketing communications. Text’s cost £20 plus one standard rate message.
We are keen to partner with businesses. Our Business Champions partnership will help many people in uncertain times get back on their feet by giving them somewhere to live and supporting them in as many ways as possible to help them to get back on track.
We have 3 available packages to suit all Businesses and becoming a Falcon Business Champion will support your business to play a crucial role in your local community.
More information can be found here: https://www.falconsupportservices.org.uk/falcon-business-champions-new
About BHIB Charities Insurance
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Any views or opinions expressed above are for guidance only and are expressed in generic terms. They are not intended as a substitute for readers taking appropriate professional advice relevant to individual circumstances. We would always encourage readers to seek professional advice.