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BLOG: Celebrating 20 years of the Community Housing Advice Partnership and looking forward…

20 October 2023
Kate McCauley, Housing Rights CEO standing in front of a blue background smiling Kate McCauley — Chief Executive
  • Homelessness
  • Social rented sector
  • Private rented sector

Good quality advice transforms lives.

Good quality housing advice helps people find and keep a home that meets their needs. 

Celebrating 20 years 

On Monday in Dungannon, we are celebrating the 20th birthday of a Housing Rights project that was and perhaps still is, ahead of its time. For those making the trip to Dungannon to be with us, rest assured that in keeping with all good birthdays, there will be cake… 

The Community Housing Advice Partnership (CHAP) is a special project. It was developed in 2003 thanks to the foresight of a consortium of advice agencies who were committed to ensuring that everyone has access to independent quality housing advice.

The project has grown from supporting agencies in 12 to 48 frontline locations across NI. As well as providing support across geographical locations, the project supports agencies that serve groups of people most at risk of homelessness. 

The delivery of the project has been possible with the support of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). In funding the project, NIHE demonstrates their commitment to supporting independent housing advice alongside their statutory advice provision role. 

Working together to ensure everyone has a home 

As we come together with those who have journeyed with us in the project, I’ve been reflecting on why CHAP continues to feel like a pioneering initiative. Of the many reasons, my mind circles back to three big ticket items… 

1. The work to prevent homelessness (and to ensure that when it does occur it is brief, rare and non-reoccurring), is hard. It is getting harder. It takes all of us to put our shoulder to the wheel. Our partner agencies do incredible work, and we are proud through this project, to support their provision of housing advice in their communities. 

2. People everywhere deserve the promise of good quality housing advice. The quiet determined collaboration in this project expands the reach of our work from our Belfast office to communities across the province. Supporting frontline practitioners through training, peer review and casework, the project also provides a gateway for people with housing problems to access specialist support.  

3. A small but mighty team of staff delivers the project. They work flexibly to respond to the needs of our partners. Over the years, the project has pivoted to respond to the need in frontline agencies which emerged from Brexit, Welfare Reform, Covid and other legislative changes. 

Looking forward 

I’ve also been looking forward.  

Our commitment to partnership, to quality and to people who need our services (and those frontline advisers who assist them), is resolute. 

Quality standards are a guarantee to the communities we serve. In other areas of public life or advice provision, they exist as a promise to the recipient that they can rely on the information, advice or advocacy to improve their lives.

Quality standards can also be a mechanism through which we can copper-fasten the support we provide to all those engaged in the delivery of housing advice. With multiple independent and statutory agencies engaged in advice provision, this is now more vital than ever.  

It is fitting therefore that as we celebrate a project that has been ahead of its time, we dig deep once more to work together to protect and promote advice provision in the future. 

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