Homelessness Trailblazer

Trailblazer: the mission

The government’s Department for Communities and Local Government is setting up a network of Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers across England “who want to go further and faster with reform and develop innovative new approaches to preventing homelessness”. The Trailblazers “will carry out prevention activity earlier and work with a wider group of people – not just those who are owed the main homelessness duty”. 

You can find three briefing notes, setting out how and why you might want to get involved:

  • Review of Year 1 of the project, here.
  • Note for our voluntary sector partners here.
  • Note for private landlords here and an advert for our next landlord event on 29 November 2018.

What is a trailblazer?

Trailblazers have to

  • Collaborate with other services to identify at-risk households and target interventions well before they are threatened with eviction.
  • Help people 56 days or even earlier when they are threatened with the loss of their home.
  • Offer that help to a wider group of people than just those owed the main homelessness duty, and
  • Test new, innovative approaches to prevent homelessness, to help build DCLG’s evidence on what works and test the effects of these approaches in different areas.

Here is a link to DCLG’s homelessness trailblazer bid resources including the prospectus and bid form. A list of other successful bidders is set out here.

Our vision

In September 2016 partners from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough got together to prepare a bid. Our vision is that “by empowering all public facing staff to identify the risk of homelessness and work together to prevent it, we make homelessness the ‘unacceptable outcome”. You can read the whole bid here, and these slides summarise it visually. In December 2016 we discovered our bid had been successful and we had secured an additional £736,400 funding.

You can download our flyer here.

Our partners

Our trailblazer partners include

  • The Housing Board coving Cambridgeshire, Peterborough & West Suffolk
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Public Services Board
  • Cambridgeshire County Council teams including Adult Drug Treatment and Criminal Justice, Children, Adults and Families, Adult Social Care, Chronically Excluded Adults, Drug and Alcohol Team and Mental Health Commissioning.
  • Public Health
  • Together for Families
  • Cambridgeshire Insight partnership
  • CHS Group including Building Better Opportunities and Making Money Count
  • Department of Work & Pensions
  • Police & Crime Commissioner
  • Police Integrated Offender Management
  • Probation
  • Local Registered Social Landlords
  • District housing authorities: Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

This new homelessness prevention network will…

  • Cement collaboration between all public sector agencies and partners to prevent homelessness.
  • Work to prevent homelessness upstream, including people who are not yet in ‘priority need’.
  • Help staff identify early warning signs of homelessness and find new ways to prevent it.
  • Make sure every interaction counts.


  • Homelessness becomes the “unacceptable outcome” through senior sign-up to a Memorandum of Understanding starting with the area’s Public Service Board (see below).
  • Homelessness specialists employed, linking housing advice and other early help teams, to spot potential homelessness and coordinate actions.
  • Homelessness prevention training for public-facing staff, supported by e-learning.
  • A ‘housing health check’ to help partners spot early warning signs of homelessness, and know who to turn to for help.
  • Action learning for frontline staff enabling them to deal with “difficult interactions”.

Progress on some networking projects

  • A number of organisations in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are changing the way they tackle homelessness and have developed a new memorandum of understanding which sets out how they agree to prevent homelessness, because homelessness is unacceptable and affects local ambitions – for example our ambitions to create healthy and safe communities and to encourage economic growth.
  • A statement of intent has also been developed, based on the memorandum, which non-statutory partners can sign up to, to show their commitment to making homelessness the unacceptable outcome. Having a lot of public sector organisations get involved is a fabulous start, but the more partners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who join in with the Trailblazer the better, so we can work to prevent and tackle homelessness together. If you’d like to be part of the Trailblazer way of working, please contact trailblazer@fenland.gov.uk to find out more.
  • Housing and criminal justice partners are working together, with support from the Police and Crime Commissioner, to agree how best to work together. A covering paper went to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s community safety partnership in July 2018, introducing this report. Partners continue to work together to agree how best to help people who have been through the criminal justice system and are at risk of homelessness.

Trailblazing teams

Homelessness Prevention

The homelessness prevention team provides a service, helping a wide range of local teams work better together, to reduce homelessness. We will be helping staff identify the early warning signs of homelessness and ways to prevent it.

The team will build good working relationships and deliver a better service by linking agencies up. This will help our area prepare for the UK’s new Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. This should also reduce the number of people needing to apply as homeless, and local use of temporary accommodation.

What can we help with?

  • Educating agencies to recognise the early warning signs of homelessness and ways to prevent it.
  • Helping people as early as possible when threatened with homelessness, regardless of “priority need”.
  • Promoting a new housing health-check and new budgeting tools.
  • Supporting agencies to make action plans for those at risk of homelessness.
  • Ensuring customers are engaging with help given, to ensure a positive outcome.
  • Working closely with housing options teams to see what has been successful and what has not, using the feedback to further develop the project.
  • Helping to develop all aspects of the homelessness prevention hub and the rent solution service.

The list will increase as the project progresses. Referrals are welcome. Please e-mail us at trailblazer@fenland.gov.uk

The landlord rents and solutions service

Loss of rented or tied accommodation is our biggest reason for homelessness acceptances, totalling 400 cases over the past 15 months in our area.

  • We will create a new ‘landlord rents and solutions’ service to help landlords maintain tenancies, resolve tenancy problems and reduce evictions which are leading to homeless acceptances.
  • We will aim to attract landlords to use our trailblazer delivery vehicle through these interactions.

The service offers free specialist help and advice to agents, landlords and tenants to help maintain tenancies and try to help resolve tenancy problems that may otherwise lead to evictions.

If we are not able to help directly then we may know of other services that we can refer to.

What can we help with?

  • Housing Benefit claims, including applications for Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Debt problems leading to rent arrears
  • Eviction and harassment
  • Landlord responsibilities
  • Tenant responsibilities
  • Property repairs and maintenance
  • Environmental health and/or housing enforcement
  • Referrals to appropriate tenancy support services.

You can download our Landlord Rent and Solutions Service poster here.

To get in touch, please call the team on 07872 422 024 or e-mail trailblazer@fenland.gov.uk

New business development

Enabling people on low incomes to secure private rented accommodation is now the most significant housing route to prevent homelessness.

Two new business development officers will develop schemes that facilitate access into good quality, affordable and suitable private rented homes. The aim is to

  • Increase supply of affordable housing options for households in need, co-operating with existing offers and exploring making furnished lets available.
  • Better use of existing data on rents, local housing allowance rates and housing turnaround times to identify any target areas.

What can we help with?

  • Working with existing private rental schemes.
  • Setting up new private rent schemes, for example; guaranteed rent schemes for private landlords.
  • Facilitating new supplies of accessible rental accommodation.

The team covers the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, in two areas:

  • Karen Freya is facilitator for scheme development in Peterborough, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. Karen aims to have a guaranteed rent scheme set up in Peterborough in 2017 and would like to make contact with private landlords currently with, or considering making new investments, in the Peterborough area. Karen covers East Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Peterborough and can be contacted at karen.freya@peterborough.gov.uk or you can call Karen on 01353 664164.
  • Atef Sayed is facilitator for scheme development in South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge and Huntingdonshire. (There is already a rent deposit guarantee scheme in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire). Atef covers Cambridge, Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire and can be contacted at atef.sayed@scambs.gov.uk or you can call Atef on 03450 450 051.

Expanding web resources

Debt advice and resolving arrears are key to homelessness prevention.

We will support the Making Money Count (MMC) web resource, which will help publicise our lettings vehicle and new ‘rent solutions’ service. Making Money Count already provides employment links, a directory of services and links with the Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme.  Other projects such as Building Better Opportunities, Cambridgeshire’s care and support directory and our Guide to Housing also contribute. Through all these we aim to:

  • Expand our web resource to help residents and partner agencies.
  • Introduce a new integrated budgeting application for the Building Better Opportunities website – please also see this page about budgeting.
  • Help people avoid homelessness using web resources and by building better inter-agency knowledge, referrals and links.
  • This Making Money Count website includes information on rented housing, one of our web partners.