Spotlight On: The Cobseo Housing Cluster
The Cobseo Housing Cluster were the well-deserved recipients of this year’s Working Together Award at the annual Soldiering On Awards, which celebrate armed forces champions. The Working Together award is sponsored by Forces in Mind Trust and recognises those who engage in collaboration to better support the armed forces community.
Award Winning Collaborators
Despite being a relatively new organisation, the Cluster is well on its way to achieving its goal of creating an integrated veterans housing sector. The group has now grown to over 30 members, with meetings attracting representatives from charities, social housing providers, the MOD and local government. By adopting a collaborative approach to veterans housing, the Cluster hopes to establish clear pathways for ex-Service personnel and their families to secure permanent homes.
Cluster co-chair, Ed Tytherleigh reflects on their progress to date, ‘three years ago Veterans’ housing organisations didn’t meet together and most of the current 30 members had never met each other at all. Creating the Cluster enabled members to work together to achieve shared objectives’.
Cluster members share expertise and resources and undertake joint projects. One such example, has been the launch of the Veterans’ Housing Advice Office, which provides a single point of contact for veterans wishing to access Cluster member services. The project provides 24/7 signposting for the armed forces community via telephone and online.
A key element to The Clusters success, has been its joint chair model, which enables the Cluster to represent a wide range of housing providers from across different sectors. Each meeting is hosted by a different member and meetings alternate between London and outside, which reinforces the importance of all members and encourages attendance.
DSC's Latest Housing Research
DSC worked closely with the Cobseo Housing Cluster to produce our latest report Focus On: Armed Forces Charities' Housing Provision, with Cluster Co-Chairs Ed Tytherleigh and James Richardson kindly providing the report's foreword. DSC were thrilled to be able to attend a Cluster meeting in June and see the award-winning initiative in action. This also presented a great opportunity to present our latest research findings.
Fittingly, collaboration emerged as a key theme of the report, with 92% of survey respondents claiming that they had experienced some benefits of collaboration. DSC found that armed forces charities frequently worked together to achieve common housing goals, 63% partnered with fellow forces charities.
However, we also found that forces charities were less likely to partner with non-Service related charities (37%) or other housing providers, such as housing associations (18%) and the MOD (17%). In this context, The Cobseo Housing Cluster is taking the lead in encouraging and facilitating a coordinated cross-sector response to veterans’ housing.