What is Supporting People?

On 1 April 2003 the Supporting People programme was launched. The programme is committed to providing a better quality of life for vulnerable people to live more independently and maintain their housing. The programme provides housing-related support to prevent problems that can often lead to hospitalisation, institutional care or homelessness and can help the smooth transition to independent living for those leaving an institutional environment.

The Supporting People programme in Merton provides housing related support services to over 1,500 vulnerable people.  The local authority delivers the programme by 35 provider organisations through more than 70 different services.

What are Supporting People services?

Supporting People services can provide the type of support a vulnerable person might need to live somewhere that feels like home. This can involve helping someone to find somewhere to live or preventing someone from losing their home if there is a danger of that happening.

In order to have a home you not only need to find a property to live in, you also need to be able to pay for it, keep it warm, secure, clean and well maintained.  For it to truly feel like home though, you need to feel like you belong there, that you like where you are living, that you can control what happens where you live and that you don’t feel stuck or isolated there – this is what Supporting People services are aiming to assist with.

What kind of support can Supporting People services provide?

Supporting People services provide housing-related support, aimed at developing or sustaining someone’s capacity to live independently. Housing-related support can include support with some or all of the following: Setting up a home, developing life and domestic skills, managing finances and benefit claims, gaining access to other services and community organisations, establishing social contacts and activities, establishing safety and security, monitoring health and well being and support with a range of other housing-related matters that can help someone live independently.

What kind of support can’t Supporting People services provide?

Supporting People services can’t provide every type of assistance that a vulnerable person might need in order to live independently.  For example they can’t provide support with personal care such as washing, dressing or feeding, neither can they provide support with administering medication, or any kind of specialist treatment or formal counselling. Supporting People services also can’t provide support on an ad hoc or one-off basis. Supporting People services provide a package of support over a period of time; this can range from a couple of months to a lifetime.

Who are Supporting People services for?

Supporting People services are intended for a wide range of vulnerable adults who may be in need of a housing-related support services for example. someone who has had a previous history of tenancy loss or someone who has been previously homeless or sleeping rough,. someone who has been in prison or is at risk of offending may benefit from a support service or people with mental health needs or a learning disability. Women with experience of domestic violence, teenage parents or young people at risk may need support to develop independence. Older people, people with drug or alcohol problems, people with a sensory or physical disability or refugees, may all need support arising form their different circumstances or experiences.

What types of Supporting People services are there?

In Merton there are over 70 different Supporting People services, provided by 35 different organisations.  Supporting People services can be categorised in to accommodation-based and non-accommodation-based. accommodation-based services require their customers to move-in to the accommodation provided in order to access the support service. Examples of this type of service include women’s refuges, sheltered housing and supported housing projects.  These services all provide accommodation along with the support to live there. If someone already has a home that suits their needs, accommodation-based services may not be the most appropriate way to get support.  Non-accommodation-based services don’t provide access to housing, but provide support wherever the customer is already living in temporary or permanent housing, in rented or owned accommodation. Examples of this type of service include community alarm services, home improvement services and floating support services.

What should I expect from a Supporting People service?

Providers of Supporting People services are under contract to the local authority. Merton's Supporting People team is responsible for monitoring the performance and quality of Supporting People services under contract.  

All Supporting People services are striving to improve quality standards and there is an expectation that they will operate to minimum standards in a number of core areas set out in the Quality Assessment Framework (QAF).  These core areas are:

  1. Needs and Risk Assessment, which is concerned with the assessment of needs and risks and that processes place users’ views at the centre and are managed by skilled staff and involve carers and/or other professionals.
  2. Support Planning, which is concerned with ensuring that service users’ have individual support plans based on up-to-date assessments of their needs and that processes place users’ views at the centre and are managed by skilled staff and involve carers and/or other professionals if service users wish.
  3. Health and Safety, which is concerned with ensuring that the security, health and safety of all individual service users and staff are protected.
  4. Protection from Abuse, which is concerned with ensuring that services safeguard the rights of service users to be protected from abuse.
  5. Diversity and Inclusion, which is concerned with ensuring that services are committed to the values of diversity and inclusion and to the practice of equal opportunity (including accessibility in its widest sense) and that the needs of black and minority ethnic service users are appropriately met.
  6. Complaints, which is concerned with ensuring that users, carers and other stakeholders are made aware of complaints procedures and how to use them.

Providers of services and the Supporting People Team are working to ensure that Supporting People services are of a good quality.  Any concerns regarding quality can be reported to the service provider directly or the Merton Supporting People team.

Who can make an application to receive a Supporting People service?

Subject to each service’s eligibility criteria, the following agencies may apply to a support service on behalf of someone with a support need:

  • Social Services Departments
  • Housing Departments
  • Housing Associations
  • Probation
  • Health
  • Citizens Advice Bureaus
  • Non-statutory Agencies
  • Care Trusts
  • Self-Referrals

For detailed information see our Policy on eligibility criteria for Supporting People grant

Contact us

London Borough of Merton
Supporting People
3rd Floor
Civic Centre
London Road
Morden SM4 5DX