Philippa Robson has been the new Chief Executive of York’s Youth homeless prevention charity, SASH, for the past 2 months. She moved up to York from Essex, but is no stranger to the area. I had a chat with her to find out her plans for the much respected York organisation.
Philippa has worked in the charitable sector for the last ten years most recently as CEO of a Domestic Abuse Agency in Essex which she left with a new contract and in a good position. Originally from Teesside, and having spent 3 years studying in York, Philippa was keen to move back up North, and when the role at SASH was advertised she knew her skills would fit and was ready for the new challenge.
I had heard of SASH and the great reputation it had. I loved their holistic approach with young people and their grass roots attitude, it really spoke to me.
Philippa was excited to be concentrating on a new group of young people and passionate about breaking the homelessness cycle before it begins.
She is full of praise for her SASH team and their connection with the young people they support, she stressed how they constantly go above and beyond to help them.
Philippa is also in awe of the amazing hosts who give up their space to offer a stable home environment.
Not only do hosts offer a roof over a young person’s head, but they offer the support, along side the SASH team, that builds up a young person’s confidence which often leads to them gaining opportunities in being rehoused permanently, continuing studies, finding a job or going to university.
It’s amazing how resilient our young people become and how the hosts, and the SASH support, help them break the cycle of homelessness.
New hosts always needed to accommodate young people
Recruiting new hosts is one of the key areas Philippa wants the charity to focus on.
They have two kinds of hosts at SASH, those offering a ‘Nightstop’ service, essentially emergency accommodation to house someone for 1 or 2 nights, and ‘Supported Lodging’ where a host offers a spare room, and for the young person to be included in their home life, for up to 12 months.
Philippa sang the praises for the Nighstop team and Host Coordinators, saying suitability is key when matching a person with a host. As well as they young person getting lots of support from SASH, the Host also receives ongoing training and support. It is a robust, thorough process almost always ensuring a successful matching and offering stability for everyone.
And she stressed that hosts don’t have to have a ‘big’ home, or actually even own their own home, they just need an open mind, a kind heart and a spare room.
Ongoing holistic support for young people
But it is not just a bed that SASH offers young people.
Something that attracted Philippa to the organisations was the holistic approach SASH took with the people they support.
The SASH Active programmes give young people the opportunity for lots of self development. Before lock down this might have been in the form of volunteering or a trip to the capital. A perfect opportunity for individuals to do things they might have never done before, build up some life skills and meet others with similar living experiences. Life long friendships and a further support network is another of the powerful benefits of this side of their service.
In lockdown, the focus was more on key life skills like cooking, healthy relationships and job interview skills. Philippa see lots of potential in introducing more and more opportunities for young people.
We went onto to talk about what Phillippa loves about York – namely how safe and secure the city feels not to mention the buzz she feels in the city – even during covid times. She admitted to a love for our beautiful moors being right on the doorstep, and is impressed with the genuine sense of community in the city.
Developing national and local partnerships
That sense of community took us right back to another aspect of the job in hand, Philippa is keen to develop partnerships for SASH both nationally and locally.
Philippa is a massive fan of the voluntary sector, and feels there is constantly something to learn from it. She is already enjoying working alongside Changing Lives, Kyra and York Mind with ongoing support for young people and intends to look into best practise at other national charities that support preventing homelessness.
Philippa is warm, excited and passionate about her role at SASH and within the city.
I think she is going to thrive.