Today we hosted the Walsall Homelessness Prevention Conference 2023 on behalf of Walsall Homelessness and Housing Steering Group.
This half day event was held at Walsall Arena and Arts Centre and focussed on supporting tenancy sustainment in the current challenging economic climate and finding practical solutions to prevent homelessness.
Over 100 housing, health and local government professionals gathered to hear expert panellists share insights over the course of two themed sessions.
The first session was entitled “How is the cost of living impacting on Walsall residents” which explored what can be done to reduce the risk of homelessness in the borough, particularly for individuals and families on low incomes who are being squeezed by inflation.
Speakers on the first panel included: Allan Boot, Walsall Coordinator at Black Country Foodbank, Sureya Gulzar, Health and Housing Partnership Manager at Walsall Housing Group (whg), Nadia Inglis, Consultant in Public Health at Walsall Council; Joanne Wright, Project Lead at Walsall Council and Michelle Dudson, Head of Customer Engagement at Walsall Council.
Ben Taylor, our Director of Homes and Communities said: “It was an honour to host the Walsall Homelessness Prevention Conference this year at such a critical time for many of Walsall’s families and communities.
“This was a great opportunity to learn more about the local impact of the cost of living increase, how partner agencies are responding to the crisis and begin to explore how we can strengthen collaborative approaches to benefit Walsall residents.
“We look forward to reviewing feedback from attendees at the event in partnership with the Walsall Homelessness and Housing Steering Group to drive initiatives over the winter months.”
Following a short break for refreshments, the second session commenced and focussed on the links between the cost-of-living crisis and increased domestic abuse cases.
This session looked at the housing sector in Walsall, who alongside other key agencies, has a significant role to play in supporting people to manage tenancies, access funds and put plans in place to help the most vulnerable live a life free from abuse.
Our panellists for the second discussion were Lauren Fleckney, Practice Consultation at SafeLives, Herbie Khosah, Housing Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) at Walsall Council, Simon Peleszok, Responsible Business Team at TSB Bank, Carol Kelly, Regional Operations Manager at Black Country Women’s Aid and Heather Downer, Domestic Abuse Services Manager at GSA.
Cllr Garry Perry, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council and portfolio holder for Resilient Communities said: “It was fantastic to hear about all the excellent initiatives taking place in Walsall and beyond to prevent homelessness. It is encouraging to see different agencies and service providers coming together to support those at risk of becoming homeless to keep a roof over their heads. I am grateful to all who attended, our guest speakers and to GSA for hosting.”