Harbour Housing

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Our supported accommodation scheme provides 80 places and we also have outreach clients in the community.

Why Homelessness? Why Cornwall?

You could be forgiven for thinking that Cornwall is simply the UK’s favourite holiday destination, has plenty of money coming in from tourism and is popular with the rich and famous for hideaways and filming blockbusters.

This may be partly true, but the harsh reality is that Cornwall has the eleventh highest number of rough sleepers out of the 326 local authorities in England and Wales. St. Austell, where all our properties are located, is in the top 20 most deprived areas of England in the UK in the indices of multiple deprivation. Harbour Housing aims to alleviate homelessness in Cornwall and everyone who lives with us has a local connection to the county.

How do people apply to live at one of Harbour's properties?

People can self-refer to Harbour, simply coming to our main site Cosgarne Hall and asking for help.  We will discuss their needs and tell them whether we can help them, or signpost them to someone who can.

Alternatively, people can be referred by other organisations including other housing providers, local authorities and prisons.  We will then invite them in for an assessment to see if we can help them.

Referrals can be made directly through the referrals tab on this site.

What is the assessment process?

New residents are assessed by support workers to determine whether our accommodation is suitable for them and if so where they would be best placed. There may be instances, for example if someone has just come out of detox or rehabilitation, where it may be detrimental to their recovery to put them in a tolerant environment and so we may signpost them to alternative accommodation.

We run a full background and police check as part of our safeguarding commitment and get a good measure of people’s level of vulnerability so that we can house them appropriately. If someone is assessed with their dog, we accept them with their dog, as long as it is tame enough to live indoors and in harmony with the other dogs we have here.

We may not have a room for someone straight away but we do have a waiting list. We are usually full and this is why we have developed to create more rooms over the past few years so no-one is left without support.

What is the living accommodation like?

Each resident has their own bedroom with a bed and bedroom furniture. Each room also has a fridge and TV point and we try to provide a TV and digibox if we have enough donated. Some rooms have a microwave and there is a shared, fully fitted kitchen between every 4-6 rooms. Rooms at one of our move-on properties are self-contained dwellings with a kitchenette and en-suite shower room. These are aimed at people who are more ready for independent living and can keep their personal space clean and tidy without much encouragement or intervention.

What does ‘drug and alcohol tolerant’ mean in practice?

We don’t simply open our doors and allow people to freely drink and use drugs on-site. Not everyone who lives at Harbour has an issue with substance misuse but we cater for those people who cannot keep a tenancy elsewhere because of their addiction.

We understand that addiction is an illness that does not go away overnight. We have strong harm-reduction measures in place in the form of around 60 CCTV cameras with live link-up screens installed across the buildings to ensure that if there is an accident or issue outside of the bedrooms that we can be aware and respond at first sight.

We also have open access boxes containing Naloxone, a drug that reverses an opiate overdose, located at points across all our properties. We have already saved 60 lives with this drug that is there in an emergency situation to bring someone back from a heroin or other opiate overdose and keep them alive whilst an ambulance is on the way.

Because of our tolerance policy, residents are very open if there is a problem or overdose situation and we aim to treat the whole person rather than see them as simply a drug addict. With the right support and diversionary activities, those who are not ready to abstain from and gain recovery from drug and alcohol addiction straight away can work towards a better way of life whilst having the safety of a roof over their head, rather than being alone, unaccounted for and risking death in public places or being found on their own somewhere weeks later.

We can work with people after an overdose or dangerous incident to address the impact drugs and alcohol are having on their lives rather than giving up on them. We perform room checks every day for anyone we have not seen that day and have an intercom system across most rooms so residents and staff can communicate easily.

How long do people stay at Harbour?

We are a temporary accommodation facility, and the guideline is that people stay for up to 2 years. However, we are committed to trying to find the right accommodation for people at the right time.

Some people can stay with us for over 2 years because there is nowhere else in the county that will house them and support them to keep a tenancy. We are looking to expand our move-on accommodation to cater for people who will always need some support but who fall through the gaps in statutory mental health and social care services.

Some people just need 6 months of stability with us to move forwards from a difficult patch in their life. The average stay is around 18 months and in that time people may move through 2 or more of our properties as they get more independent and need less support and interventions to lead a positive life.

What is a typical day at a Harbour property like for a resident?

A typical day could involve a key-work session followed by some volunteering in the main kitchen to help prepare lunch for everyone, having lunch in the café or out in the garden if the weather is nice.

There may be a course, excursion or activity after lunch and a We Are With You appointment to attend in the afternoon. This will vary from person to person but each week we expect residents to attend appointments, engage with a positive activity and do some volunteering in order to make the best of their tenancy and so we can ensure they need access to the support we offer.

What services are delivered on-site to support people whilst they are living at Cosgarne Hall?

We have a support team based at Cosgarne Hall, comprising a manager and nine staff, all of whom are here to support our residents in dealing with the issues that have prevented them leading independent lives and sustaining tenancies elsewhere.  All residents are allocated to a dedicated Keyworker, but everyone in the team is here to help in any way they can.  In addition to this, there are various specialist services provided on site:

  • We offer We Are With You appointments with substance workers on-site for people in treatment for drug and alcohol issues.
  • We offer appointments with a nurse one day per week in a specially fitted room for health-checks, blood tests, immunisation, sexual health, wound treatment and more.


  • We offer counselling appointments in our counselling room to help people address a range of emotional issues.


  • We offer educational courses and social activities to improve confidence, well-being and quality of life.

Where does funding for the service come from?

Housing benefit pays for us to provide the basics of accommodation for people and we have a contribution from the Directorate of Education, Health and Social Care at Cornwall Council to provide a support staff contract.

Anything outside of this we must fundraise for. We apply for various grants to keep the Tenancy Sustainment and Volunteering and Activities Department going as this does not fall within what Support or Housing Benefit can be spent on.  Funds we seek are for staff costs, volunteer management, positive activities, education and community projects.

Where do people go after leaving Harbour?

Some people may move onto detox and rehabilitation services, some may move on into privately rented flats or shared houses and some may go to other supported accommodation facilities.

Do you support people when they leave?

People who have a planned move-on to private rented accommodation can be supported by our outreach team to ensure a smooth transition, and those who are moved on through our Landlord Incentive Scheme can access dedicated move-on support for themselves as well as their landlord to ensure that the move is a success. We love hearing from residents after they have moved on, and often welcome them back as volunteers or for a catch up.