Birmingham establishes new partnership to improve standards for vulnerable families

Birmingham City Council has today announced the start of a new partnership with Switch Hospitality Management (SWHM). The new programme will see the council being able to place all families who approach them as homeless and in need of emergency housing, into any of the properties on the programme.

SWHM has a large portfolio of hotels and apartment properties across the city and various partnerships with accommodation providers, that marks a significant improvement to the standard of accommodation being provided to the vulnerable families in need of temporary accommodation while waiting to be housed.

The council has seen a dramatic rise in homelessness since the start of the pandemic with more and more people having to be placed in B&B’s and other emergency housing right across Birmingham. However, since the launch of the partnership, families have already been moved into Birmingham hotels operating at the highest standard. As part of the programme, those who are staying will receive:

·   a cooked breakfast every morning

·   access to all hotel services

·   guaranteed high standards of cleanliness and housekeeping

·   children’s lunch each day funded by SWHM and its partners

·   health and safety procedures and checks

·   free access to Wi-Fi

The type of hotels and apartment properties provided also means that there is additional space for extra support. It will enable families and individuals who are in this type of temporary accommodation, to access the information they need to find permanent housing. This includes things like safe meeting spaces for officers from housing, health and children’s services to meet with families when appointments are needed.

Cllr Sharon Thompson, cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council said, “The pandemic has been a challenging time for many people across the city, but this is fantastic news and provides us with a real game changing opportunity to help people.

“I’d personally like to thank SWHM for their generosity. While the pandemic led to initial talks between us, they’ve gone above and beyond in their commitment to homeless families. Not only are they offering this lifeline of support during the pandemic but, most importantly, this will extend beyond the current crisis. It means homeless families and individuals will continue to have access to the same high-quality accommodation once the pandemic is over.

“And, this is absolutely essential. Not only does everyone have the right to decent housing but it’s vital in ensuring positive mental and physical health. This is a brilliant step and I couldn’t be more pleased for the families who will now be able to have a much happier, healthier Christmas. However, we will continue to work hard with our partners around the city to see that homelessness is prevented and the root causes of the problem are corrected.”

John Angus, Managing Director for Switch Hospitality Management said

“It is very difficult to make decisions in life on who you will support, how can you see the difference that you are directly making, that is why I always try to invest my time and resources into projects where I can make and see the difference.

“We always strive for excellence in everything that we do and we felt we could make a real difference with the rollout of the new programme.  Every quality hotel and apartment business currently has empty rooms in the city, so the opportunity is there to prove that the programme is viable, the families are guests like anyone else and they deserve to be treated with respect. The ultimate measurement is the thank you cards from children to our teams when they move from our temporary accommodation to their new homes”

“This was also an opportunity to break away from our traditional hospitality management model, the project is totally separate and is not interlinked with any of our other businesses. This allows complete focus on the project’s success.

“The project is certainly providing significant satisfaction for our team, not only are we securing Hospitality jobs in the city, we get to see the families in the correct level of accommodation, receiving the level of support that they deserve.”