Homes at the Heart: Gill Brown, Chair of Jigsaw Support

Homes at the Heart: Gill Brown, Chair of Jigsaw Support

Gill Brown is Chair of Jigsaw Support which provides a range of services, including homelessness, prevention and support to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Here she talks about the importance of its work and the ‘Homes at the Heart’ campaign on settled futures.

“When people find themselves in a situation where they are about to lose their home, or they haven’t got a home, it’s a very traumatic time in their life and they are in a very vulnerable position – and very often, extremely desperate.

People can be made homeless for many, diverse reasons. Because of that Jigsaw Support has a wide range of innovative support solutions and services, and measures in place to step in and help.

Our support starts not just by finding people a home, but also providing other wrap-around services, such as housing advice, which aims to prevent homelessness, offering refuge for those who may be fleeing domestic violence and accommodation with support for people with physical or mental health issues.

Because Jigsaw Support is a subsidiary group of the Jigsaw Homes Group, that puts us in an ideal position to really understand the needs of our service users. We’ve built up some fantastic and innovative and services that really do help and do target those that are most vulnerable becoming homeless or who are homeless.

We aim to get in and help people before they get to that crisis point. So we’ve got preventative programmes, community programmes, volunteer and peer mentor programmes to really help people who are struggling. If we didn’t do those interventions at that early stage, then the likely route would be that they would progress towards homelessness.

Jigsaw Support is probably best known for its Housing First work which actually put homes at the heart of what we do – and why this resonates so strongly with the National Housing Federation’s campaign.

Housing First has been a very successful project which has really transformed thinking about how to support homeless and vulnerable people. It’s a really simple principle that people are much more able to move forward with their lives, if they are in permanent accommodation. Once they have that stable base then they are able, with support, to prioritise problems that they may have, and work through them at their own pace.

I’m so proud of every single service that gives support, but in particular our staff. We have got most fantastic staff who are so dedicated to what they do, and no more so than now, in the middle of the pandemic.

It’s really clear that Jigsaw Support is aligned completely to the Homes at the Heart campaign. We aim to get people into their own permanent accommodation, to give them the support, so that they can build resilience without that terrible, traumatic threat of either being homeless or becoming homeless.

Not only do we aim to give people their own home, and a place of safety, but support that enables them to work towards complete independence. And by doing that, they can begin to rebuild their lives.”