The initiative started at the end of May and staff have begun to reach out to the homeless in Christchurch.

Housing First Team Leader Nicola Fleming has hit the ground running. Since starting in April she has been busy learning about Housing First, spending time with the other organisations involved and interviewing staff. "The Housing First initiative is very exciting and is a great thing for Christchurch," says Nicola. "Being able to help a significant number of people in our community that are rough sleeping is a unique opportunity."

Housing First places people experiencing homelessness directly into permanent housing without the requirement of a transition period or to be sober or drug free. Tailored support services are offered to individuals and a Housing First support worker visits them at least weekly.

Nicola's team includes a cultural advisor, three key workers with expertise in mental health, addictions and community development, two peer support workers with lived experience of homelessness and an administrator.

"Housing First is about gaining trust from people and giving them a choice. We have to take the time to talk to them and not go in with any expectations," says Nicola. "Some of these people have been badly let down in the past. Gaining their trust is crucial to them ultimately believing we can help and accepting that support. From there we will house them first and then wrap around them whatever services they need."

Nicola and the team are in need of mobile phones, fingerless gloves, woollen hats and jumpers to give to the people they are working with. If you can help with this please contact Nicola on 027 641 5607 or nicolaf@housingfirstchristchurch.nz

Picture Caption: Nicola Fleming is leading Housing First in Christchurch

Nicola Fleming