To be implemented by September, West Berkshire Council has been granted £200 thousand from central government to support local rough sleepers.
As discussed in the Homeless Forum in May, as part of the Homeless Reduction Act, a sum of £30 million was being made available nationwide for local support toward the homeless. The funding was secured following a successful bid by West Berkshire Council to a £30 million Rough Sleeper Initiative Grant created by the Government. The bid was created with the support and involvement of local partners including A2 Dominion, Sovereign Housing Association, Loose Ends, Eight Bells, Two Saints, Adult Social Care, Healthwatch West Berkshire, Thames Valley Police, Swanswell, West Berkshire Homelessness, Greenham Common Trust, and the Newbury and District Clinical Commissioning Group.
The grant will also support a number of funds to secure suitable accommodation, items which create a barrier to housing such as rent deposit and previous arrears, a health visitor resource based at a partner office to assist with accessing healthcare locally and a project worker to mobilise the project and work on the business case for a West Berkshire Wellbeing Centre for rough sleepers, plus an extension to the prison release scheme to allow more time for people leaving prison to find somewhere to live so that they don’t become rough sleepers.
Hilary Cole, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness said:
We are delighted to receive this grant money and have given a great deal of thought to the initiatives that it will fund. They will all make the most positive impact and provide the most practical benefits to rough sleepers. Homelessness and rough sleeping in a priority for the council. Our figures for rough sleepers fluctuate as there are so many factors that can contribute to someone finding themselves in this position. While it is not possible to control these factors, the funding will enable us to greatly increase the help and support that we can offer to rough sleepers.
As well as being awarded this funding West Berkshire has also recently been selected as one of only 25 areas nationally to implement the Making Every Adult Matter programme. It has been established to develop coordinated, effective support for people experiencing multiple needs. Statutory agencies and the voluntary sector are working together in West Berkshire to transform the lives of people experiencing a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system and mental ill health.
A number of new initiatives will be enabled by the funding including the recruitment of outreach and project workers to engage with a community which is often hard to reach and a fund to help remove barriers to finding stable accommodation. These include an additional outreach worker, two floating support workers and a dual diagnosis worker to help those with mental health or substance misuse issues.
Meryl Praill commented:
This is fantastic news. A General Practitioner drop in service for rough sleepers, money for ID documents together with furniture for vulnerable and homeless people should be available by September.