Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Benefits of GROW

Employing service users is good for the individuals concerned, for other members of staff and for the organisation as a whole. Thames Reach has gained many benefits from employing staff with a personal history of homelessness and service use.

Benefits for service user employees

Most organisations that work with homeless people will recognise the following benefits from their own organisational objectives.

The benefits for service user employees are many, including increased self-worth, hope and a route away from the difficult aspects of daily life, all wrapped up in a meaningful job with high levels of satisfaction and personal and professional rewards. 

"GROW offered me a sense of self, it’s built up my confidence to deal with any situation that arises."

"It gave me a purpose to wake up in the morning. I didn’t feel like an outcast any more."

"I just want to give something back to Thames Reach. Programmes like this are one in a million."

"It’s given me my life back."

 Former GROW trainees now working as
support workers in Thames Reach

Photo of Alpheus Williams and Dennis Benn
Alpheus Williams (left) and Dennis Benn are both former GROW trainees now permanently employed by Thames Reach

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Benefits to the organisation

An organisation that employs service users has much to gain, not least a greater sense of unity, of ‘practicing what we preach’. But there are also financial and service-delivery benefits, and the development of a more knowledgeable, motivated and effective workforce.

Employing service users bring numerous benefits to an organisation’s:

  • communications resource and effectiveness

  • reputation within the sector and with partners and funders

  • service delivery: Service users encounter and are inspired by positive role models; the service develops a culture of empowerment and raised expectations of service users; services benefit from the experience and knowledge of user employees and become more focused and needs-led

  • human resources, in particular the service user employees themselves, who are highly committed and hardworking and provide a team of staff able to provide internal training. The benefits also extend to the broader staff team, who enjoy greater job satisfaction, are motivated, have a deeper understanding of the causes of homelessness and a stronger belief in the potential of homeless people

  • financial position. Reap the rewards of your investment in training service users, and save money on recruitment; generate new business providing services to other organisations; tap new funding streams; secure Supporting People funding and meet the expectations of funders and gain the feedback that ensures services are efficient and focused on need and benefits to service users

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National Seminar on Employing Service Users

Thames Reach, in conjunction with the London Housing Foundation and Novas, held a national seminar for homelessness agencies that are actively engaged in employing current and former homeless people within their organisation.

One of the objectives of the seminar was to identify the benefits of service user employment in the homelessness sector.

Attendees at the seminar all agreed that the benefits of employing people with experience of homelessness were extensive and made a compelling case. They also agreed that the gains of this type of initiative far outweighed any real or perceived difficulties.

Minutes from National Seminar on Employing Service Users
Minutes from National Seminar on Employing Service Users  - [1.07 MB] Read the minutes taken from the workshop run by Thames Reach, the London Housing Foundation and Novas in October 2007