'My support worker treats me like a person, not as a number' - How emh worked to meet the Homes for Cathy committments

At emh, our mission is to provide homes and care to improve opportunities for our residents. To achieve this, we know that in a time of increasing homelessness, we must deliver these services in ways that will make a real difference for people who are homeless, or those might become so.

The Homes for Cathy commitments reflect our mission and our aims and help us to focus our work to prevent and relieve homelessness within our communities. We recognise and value the power of partnership, and the difference that can be made by working together to achieve common aims. Together, the Homes for Cathy members own and manage over 1.34 million homes, and together we can make a huge difference.

What did we do to meet the Homes for Cathy commitments?

We worked in partnership to deliver positive change.

Emh owns more than 21,000 properties in the East Midlands area. Each year, we let around 1,400 new tenancies at affordable or social rents. We don’t maintain our own housing waiting list, but we work in partnership with local authorities through their choice-based lettings systems. These apply each local authority’s priority bandings, ensuring that these tenancies go to the people with the highest needs.

We have a flexible allocation policy that takes account of everyone’s unique circumstances. Through the process we maximise the contribution of our rented homes in terms of homelessness recovery. We also work with our Local Housing Authority partners to support interventions to relieve homelessness.

Partnership working in action

At emh, we've worked with councils in Leicestershire to provide homes through the government’s Rough Sleeper Accommodation Project (RSAP) applying the ‘Housing First’ model to our approach. Using the government funding, we purchased six flats and worked with local councils to select people eligible for the scheme and made sure the programme was right for them.

Before anyone moved into their home, we made sure it was fully kitted out with everything they need to make a house a home, easing the transition into housing. Their support worker provide intensive support to ensure they gain the skills to live independently.

Once moved in, a resident will stay in their new home for two years, gaining skills before being supported to find another home and live independently.

'My support worker has really worked on gaining my trust – he always follows through on what he says he’s going to do.

By helping me to get out into the community, he’s really helped me feel a part of society again – that’s something I lost while I was homeless.'

-Steve*, emh resident

Steve's story

Steve*, who has recently completed the two-year programme and is now living independently in his new home, said:

“I find it hard to trust people, but my support worker has really worked on gaining my trust – he always follows through on what he says he’s going to do. By helping me to get out into the community, he’s really helped me feel a part of society again – that’s something I lost while I was homeless. People often don’t see you as a person anymore, and eventually you start to believe it. My support worker treats me like a person, not as a number, and he always goes over and above what he has to do.

After those six months living on the streets, my self-confidence was ruined but I’m working on rebuilding this. I still have down days, but I have great support around me, from Pankaj and from my mum, and both recognise when my mental health is starting to go downhill. It has improved hugely since I moved in though, as stress makes it worse and the support helps take that stress away from me.

People often don’t understand homelessness, and think everyone who is rough sleeping is there because of poor choices they’ve made, but it’s often not the way. It’s a huge battle to get people to understand, and I really hope my story will help with that.”

We reviewed our policies and extended our support.

We have reviewed our policies to help reduce evictions because of anti-social behaviour and rent arrears. Any action taken through the courts must now be authorised by an Executive Director, and regular reports to the Board keep them appraised of the few cases where we have enforced possession orders.

Other homelessness prevention methods we’ve put in place since joining Homes for Cathy include:

  • Expanding our Money Matters Team to better support our residents during a cost-of-living crisis.
  • Developing a Tenancy Sustainment Service in partnership with Erewash Borough Council to support residents at risk of losing their tenancy and new residents with additional vulnerabilities.
  • Midlands Rural has added two extra people to their housing management team to be out-and-about in rural communities, providing welfare support and helping people to sustain their tenancies.
  • Using income analytics to allow us to manage arrears in a more focussed way to facilitate earlier intervention and support for residents experiencing problems and improves our ability to avoid home loss.

We worked to lobby, challenge and inspire others.

We also work to lobby, challenge and inspire others to support homelessness. We have:

  • Hosted a Homes for Cathy event to promote understanding within partner organisations, as well as within emh.
  • Regularly attended the National Housing Federation Homelessness Steering Group.
  • Contributed to research organised by the group carried out by Imogen Blood and the University of York. This research investigated the supported housing sector’s impact on homelessness prevention, health and wellbeing, and was launched in the House of Commons in March 2023.
  • Signed up to Leicester’s Homelessness Charter.

How has Homes for Cathy benefitted our residents?


Evictions due to arrears during the year 2019/20 were 39. Despite the cost-of-living crisis placing increased financial pressure on our customers, we have had much lower eviction rates since the end of the evictions ban. In 2022/23, this figure was just 8 and for the period to end of July 23/24 just 3.

Evictions due to ASB have reduced greatly as we have adopted new approaches.

Money Matters

In 2022/23, 1,356 customers were supported by the Money Matters Team, gaining them £2.3m.

From April 2023 to the end of September 2023, 88 customers were referred to the Resident Support Fund. Approximately two thirds of these requests were for food vouchers, and a third for essential household items such as beds, washing machines, carpets etc. At the end of September 2023, £12,454 worth of vouchers had been allocated.

Specialist housing

Our Specialist Housing Team is providing support to over 140 homeless people. This includes hostel provisions, dispersed supported housing, and housing-led accommodation for former rough sleepers.

The average length of stay is a little over 7 months, and we use the Homelessness Outcome Star to help us track distance-travelled outcomes for customers. These help to show that our customers are telling us they are improving their motivation, money management, and mental health.

A recent small-scale survey of former customers who have moved on shows that none of them have experienced repeat homelessness.

Prioritising general needs lets

We allocate our rental lets through Local Housing Authority choice-based lettings systems, using each council’s priority banding system. In this way, we prioritise our allocations to meet the priorities set by our partners. For example, statistics from Blaby Council show that 100% of our allocations in the past 12 months went to households in the top band for housing need. This is primarily statutorily homeless households to whom the council owes a full duty under the Homelessness Prevention Act.

What is our advice for organisations looking to join Homes for Cathy?

The main piece of advice we’d give to other organisations thinking about joining Homes for Cathy would be to value the power of partnerships. Look at the opportunities you have to work with Local Authorities, other housing providers, and housing charities in your area. This will help you to have a joined-up approach, ensuring that you’re all working together to achieve your common goals.

You can achieve far more together, so put these partnerships to good use!

Who to speak to

Dylan Hemmings