The prevention of homelessness for all households is a key area of work for the Housing Options team. They provide free advice and assistance to anyone who is homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Assistance is tailored to meet the needs and issues of each individual. Those needs can be quite complex, ranging from substance misuse issues, mental and physical health concerns to financial and employment difficulties.
We work closely with Two Saints to support and assist single homeless people and homeless families. An Outreach worker supports those sleeping rough, and the hostel is available for single homeless people.
The hostel is more than a bed for the night. Homeless people are able to shower in the mornings, do their laundry and have tea or coffee and toast. They are also given vouchers to have refreshments in the afternoons at Café Imbizu on West Street.
Our experience with many single homeless people, especially those who have spent periods sleeping rough, is that they need more support to help resolve a range of problems, not just housing. This might include for example helping to manage debt, mental health conditions, anger management, domestic abuse support, substance misuse or low self-esteem. Help with writing cvs is also available for those who want it.
Taking someone from sleeping rough straight into a self-contained tenancy with little support has a considerable risk of failure therefore the Council and Two Saints work together to provide a staged and supportive journey towards independent, sustainable accommodation.
There are also occasions when people are offered help and accommodation that they turn down; it is simply not the case that insufficient funds or resources are exacerbating the problem.
The Council has committed £364,000 for the current financial year to provide assistance for the homeless or for those threatened with homelessness. This spend represents 35% of the amount allocated to the total Health and Housing Budget for the year.
The Council has recently provided additional funding to increase the bed space available at the hostel – a scheme referred to as Extended Winter Provision. This is part of the council response to providing additional help during periods of extreme, often cold weather. If this extended winter provision does not meet the needs of those sleeping rough, the council will make other provision available to ensure no-one needs to sleep out in extreme conditions.
These relief and prevention activities are wide-ranging and as detailed above, are tailored to the specific needs of the individual.