Community Housing at Sturts Community Trust (SCT)
At SCT we have a number of community housing schemes either on our two farm sites – Sturts and Gullivers – or in the local West Moors community. Together these are known as Clover Community Housing
Clover Community Housing is arranged into six small mixed neighbourhoods with accommodation varying from five bedrooms to one bedroom. Four of those neighbourhoods are on Sturts Farm, one is on the adjoining farm, Gullivers, and the other is in West Moors. Neighbourhoods house between 10 and 17 people and all aspects of community life are organised through them. Each neighbourhood will include people with support needs where communication will need to be adapted in order to be truly inclusive.
We will be opening a new major development – Twin Oaks – on the Sturts site in April.
The largest part of the accommodation is for people with learning difficulties or companions as we call them (please see the Supported Living page). We then have accommodation for:
- Vocational members (who might provide support to the companions or who might have a role on the farms or in the social enterprise).
- Vocational workers on learning pathway. Some vocational workers will have their family living with them
- Co-worker Volunteers on learning pathway and/or Tier 5 charity worker volunteers
One of our plans in the medium term is to offer accommodation to people who wish to live in a community setting like SCT and be part of community activities but not have a vocational role as such. This co-housing is part of the vision for SCT as we move forward.
Applying for accommodation at SCT
All accommodation at SCT at present is linked to having a role at SCT such as being a support worker; working on the farm/garden or working in the shop. This is sometimes referred to as ‘tied’ accommodation.
So an application for accommodation goes hand in hand with an application for a role at SCT (please see the Vocational Working and Volunteering Page) and the two processes are considered and managed alongside each other.
As well as filling in an application for housing (link) you will fill in an application for a vocational role or a trainee or volunteering position (link).
You will be applying to live in, work with, and, in due course, help run a major community project for vulnerable adults. As such it is critical that you have the space and time to be sure that this way of living suits you and that we at SCT also feel that you are fitting in well to how we operate.
Both your initial form of tenancy and your contract of employment are subject to probationary periods to enable you and us to make that assessment.
The Interview Process
As well as completing an application form and providing references, applicants are invited to a two stage interview process.
The first stage interview will follow a visit to and tour of SCT. Applicants will then meet a small group of companions and vocatonal workers for an informal conversation.
Assuming that goes well you will be invited for an interview with a small panel of vocational workers. This interview will cover both your housing and your employment application.
Types of tenancy
All volunteers will be offered their own bedroom but share other amenities. The formal agreement we and you will sign will be a licence agreement (link)
All vocational workers and vocational members (and any family members will be offered self-contained accommodation within a neighbourhood setting. The formal agreement we and you will sign will be an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (link) (AST). The AST ordinarily will be for six months and, subject to a satisfactory review, will be rolled forward for another six months and so on.
The first six months
With vocational workers in particular, we want to help you settle in, develop your personal and vocational skills and become an effective member of SCT. The same is also true of co-worker volunteers and those on co-worker pathway.
A key part of that is that we offer different learning programmes at different stages to all vocational staff (link to training page). During the first six month period the training will largely focus on:
- Living in a housing community like SCT
- The broad philosophy that underpins our approach to living, working and sharing with our companions
- The green principles on which the farm is run
- Any personal areas you would like to work or develop further.
Assuming all goes well we will then agree a fresh training programme for the following six months and so on.