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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Housing Rights' Housing Champions Project

Diana housing champion giving advice

In 2017, Housing Rights sought out to enhance the housing advice service provided to black and ethnic minority (BME) communities in Northern Ireland through a peer project with the support of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.  The Housing Champions project long-term goals are to equip BME communities with the information they need to make informed and appropriate housing decisions, and know how to access better quality housing.

The journey so far has seen 14 BME peer volunteers recruited from varied language backgrounds including Romanian, Arabic, Kurdish, Polish, Lithuanian, Portuguese and Hungarian.  In the Autumn of 2017, peer volunteers received accredited training in housing advice and interpretation to become ‘Housing Champions’.  The result of the training is to strengthen the peers’ employability, confidence and positivity about their future.

Diana, (pictured giving advice), originally from Lithuania, took part in the training.  

“I enjoyed each part of the training.  Afterwards, I felt much more knowledgeable in terms of how benefits are distributed and how the housing system operates in Northern Ireland.  I also learned about my rights as a tenant.”

Work Placements

Currently, peer volunteers are in the second stage of the process where they are undertaking up to 16 weeks of work placement in a housing advice setting.  We would like to take the opportunity to thank our placement providers for giving our peers the chance to enhance their employability and apply their housing advice training to a work environment.  We trust that our peers will enrich the services being provided at their placement, bringing diversity and new ideas to foster a mutually beneficial relationship.

Gintare, who is on placement with STEP is enjoying her work experience:

“I am so happy to be offered a work placement through BME Housing champions project. Everyday I feel that I am not only improving and developing a vast amount of professional skills, but it is also has been a journey of a small victories in overcoming my own personal fears and barriers. There is so much of information to learn in a housing rights sector, but learning it through work placement experience, makes it an enjoyable journey.”

Peer-led Community Outreach Sessions

The final stage for the peers is to deliver housing advice to members of their own community through outreach sessions.  The purpose of these housing sessions is to :

  • Improve accessibility for BME clients
  • Help remove any barriers to mainstream advice services
  • Empower BME communities to seek their housing rights and responsibilities by attending a session
  • BME clients will know where to seek housing advice in the future

We are currently seeking a number of places to host our community outreach sessions in the following locations throughout Northern Ireland during Spring 2018:

  • Coalisland
  • Craigavon
  • Greater Belfast Area (Ligoniel, Crumlin Road, Antrim Road, Ormeau Embankment, East Belfast, West Belfast)
  • Lurgan
  • Newry
  • Portadown

If your organisation can offer us space to facilitate these outreach clinics, please contact Sonya Nelson, our Peer and Volunteer Co-ordinator sonya@housingrights.org.uk or call 028 9024 5640

Tagged In

Minority Groups

Author

Frances McGrath