You could say, chatting in 20c sunshine in January with a retired 40-year-old Swiss gentleman, at a beach front cafe in Tenerife, is an odd place to start one’s English Supported Housing journey.
You can picture Chris (the Swiss chap) who was in his fourth year of retirement, looked as relaxed as a multi-millionaire beach bum might.
Having made his money in a ten year stint as a small provider of supported housing in the Swiss mental health sector, he had done well by doing it well and explained how you might do it too.
The personal impact on the people passing through his business being able to recover from being in very vulnerable states to being able to live independently is a huge feel-good factor.
And hearing that they often become active contributors to society after being in a bad place was fascinating coming from someone who had also made a great financial success (he had been a trainee draftsperson in an architects office).
His top tip was to find out what people liked to do for fun and make it easy for them to do it. This was closely followed by focusing on providing a higher standard of accommodation than required.
Unsurprisingly, the Swiss government had never got around to analysing let alone modelling his (much more effective but surprisingly simple) approach before he exited the sector.
Lay of the land back home in England
Supported housing in England is a multi-billion pound business with over 1,000 operators providing housing for in excess of 150,000 people. It is generally operated via a local authority administered and funded scheme.
It should be noted that local authorities have statutory duties to provide housing for eligible people. There is a simple underpinning of the government support of vulnerable people in supported housing that there is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.
Supported housing can in different situations be provided as accommodation in a bedsit, a studio, a one bedroom flat or shared accommodation in a house or other dwelling.