Hull – Humber”Care” – Helping or Hindering the Homeless?

Humbercare

Humbercare are a local charity, based in Hull. They were initially established to work with the Humberside Probation Trust. Their aim is to rehabilitate, educate, and promote the mental and moral improvement of offenders, and anyone requiring help.

They operate from a number of buildings, including Westbourne House and Dock House.

From an onlooker’s perspective they seem a great service for those struggling with homelessness. It appears, though, that their glossy brochure-like website hides some worrying stories.

“Shocked and Insulted”

Humbercare receives slightly less than £2,000,000 per year from rental income. This income, you would expect, would go towards funding improvements to the accommodation, and improving the lives of service users. Perhaps even just maintaining a standard of furbishment. Sadly, this appears not to always be the case.

Tricia Scott was asked to clean one resident’s accommodation and was shocked to find a state of disrepair. When she arrived at the property there was only one socket in the premises working. There were no lights working, and the boiler was broken too.

Whilst at the property she recorded the following video, which she has shared with us:

Tricia said on her Facebook page:

I was asked to go and clean a gentleman’s flat who is currently living with the Humbercare sheltered housing.

I’m shocked and insulted that my tax goes towards the council to pay the so called supported housing associations.

Not An Isolated Incident

Sadly Tricia’s experience doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. A number of people who have experienced a similar situation with Humbercare.

One user said there were no fire alarms fitted in the property. They also claimed the property had inadequate windows, which caused mould to form. Luckily there were no fires as it is likely it would have lead to severe injuries, or even death.

Another user shared a similar experience, with a relative of theirs having mould grow on bedding and pillows. When the issue was reported Humbercare took no action to remedy the situation, taking rent regardless. The resident was then offered to be moved to alternative accommodation within Humbercare. Sadly the move never took place.

“No Visits Identified The Leak”

A Humbercare employee responded in defence of the charity. Emma Wagner, one of Humbercare’s management team, said:

Numerous staff have visited his property several times today, no visits identified a leak from the toilet.

However as a result of this post maintenance have been contacted and are now on route to the property.

She went on to say a few hours after:

Maintenance have attended, no leak when they arrived, all checked and fine, toilet fixed.

According to Emma the toilet in question was fine, though the video above shows water clearly gushing out. The resident later confirmed that the leaking toilet was finally repaired.

Humbercare
One Humbercare resident’s home had a broken toilet. (Credit Tricia Scott)

“Over £200 a week”

When people have asked about how much vulnerable people are paying for the accomodation the answer is always £200 or more per week. With that figure in mind they are charging around £10,400 for accommodation.

Rightmove Westbourne Avenue Hull
For less than half of the reported weekly charge a resident could rent this house and have money to spare. (© RightMove)

When asked about how much residents pay Humbercare were unwilling to respond to a number of individuals. They would then go on to block individuals asking for figures. We have also contacted Humbercare but received no reply as of yet.

Diana Johnson, Hull North MP, and Emma Hardy, Hull West and Hessle MP, both showed concerns regarding the situation. DIana Johnson has, in the past, raised concerns with Hull City Council. She also raised these concerns with the CEO of Humbercare. Unfortunately the concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears, as standards have continued to remain low.

Kingswood House RightMove
Shockingly, this Kingswood 3 bedroom new-build is cheaper than accommodation with Humbercare (©Rightmove)

One user on Facebook asked how a service user with Humbercare is meant to save up to move out. It is certainly a good question.

With almost every penny the service users received going into paying for a roof over their head, how are they expected to progress? When given the option of living on the street or having a roof over your head there’s not much choice.

High Earning Staff

Whilst reading the charity’s financial records we discovered a worrying figure. One member of staff is being paid a staggering £80,000 to £90,000.

This means vital funds raised by the charity are lining the pockets of a high ranking staff member rather than supporting service users. Whilst we can understand that high ranking staff need paying the figure paid is astronomical. A Product Manager at Google would expect to be paid around that figure. You’d be hard-pressed to find many charity staff being paid such a large figure.

In fact, the Chief Executive of one of the UK’s largest homeless charities, Shelter, is paid around £73,000. With such clear disregard for charity funds the shortfall appears to be felt by the service users.

After a bumper year of income received by the charity this employee received a pay rise. In 2016 the employee was being paid between £70,000 and £80,000.

A recent post on the Humbercare facebook asked for donations of clothes and shoes for an individual attending a funeral.

Humbercare Facebook
Humbercare asking for clothes on Facebook, whilst a staff member is paid £80k-90k.

A suit can be bought at a supermarket for less than £100 so it brings into question whether money is being spent in the wrong areas.

Should this employee have been given a raise? When the matter of buying a basic suit for a service user becomes a struggle it brings into question whether it was justifiable.

With money obviously a struggle for the charity we asked Humbercare whether the staff member being paid so highly will be reducing their salary. Unfortunately they have yet to respond to us in any form.

Met With Silence

Unfortunately Humbercare would not respond to our email. Not even a courtesy email saying “we will try to get back to you soon” suggesting they have any interest in taking this seriously.

This appears to be the case for a number of people with worries. When contacting the charity, unless you are a potential client, they seem disinterested.

We will gladly publish any response received from the charity about any of the questions posed by this article. However we are not getting our hopes up of any form of contact.

 

 

 

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Gavin

Admin and Editor of Hull.Today

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