Senior leaders from the city council, central government and 40 agencies and organisations in Stoke-on-Trent have vowed to work together to help prevent homelessness and eradicate rough sleeping .
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has today (Wednesday) hosted more than 100 delegates responsible for delivering a range of support and services, in the city’s first homelessness summit.
Delegates at the event in the King’s Hall in Stoke heard that the city council is developing proposals to create a homelessness hub that would provide emergency accommodation and bring health, mental health and addiction services together under one roof. The hub would also provide support on employment and training, and wider financial and wellbeing advice. The proposals, which are still being developed, would see the council spend £3.5m on creating a hub and 20 accommodation units, and 10 self-contained accommodation units to help people move on into the community, with the potential of accessing government funding to help pay for the scheme. The proposals are set to be put before cabinet later in October.
Councillor Randolph Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “I called this summit to send a clear signal that the city council, central government, responsible authorities and voluntary and community groups across the city take the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping very seriously.
“We don’t want to see anyone in our city on the streets, and want to ensure that people who find themselves in a vulnerable position have access to the right support and services to meet their needs.”
Delegates at the event heard that, like many other cities and towns across the country, the number of people approaching services for advice on homelessness has increased, and that the number of people sleeping rough has risen.
Brighter Futures chief executive Helena Evans said: “We are committed to working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and partners to tackle homelessness together. We welcome today’s event as a signal of this focus and intent. Our Rough Sleeper Team is gearing up to provide more outreach support hours than ever before, with two teams working across the city on a daily basis, enabling us to be as flexible as possible, taking the service to where and when people most need it. This service is closely aligned with a range of other partners to try to understand and respond in an integrated way to the complexity of the issues that people are facing who find themselves without a home.”
The summit included representatives from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, who talked about the government’s response to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, and the £657,000 grant secured by the city council to continue and strengthen service provision over the next two years, including initiatives such as more outreach working, further homelessness prevention work, and co-ordinated drug and alcohol support.
Delegates heard how a new service, Housing First Stoke-on-Trent, led by Brighter Futures, is helping people with complex needs. They also heard from Voices and Expert Citizens, groups which help people with multiple needs, on the real experiences of people facing homelessness.
The summit also included a discussion on how agencies are coming together to tackle the issue of new psychoactive substances.
The event was chaired by Danny Flynn, chief executive of YMCA North Staffordshire, who explained the work being done to transform services across the city and support people looking to get a first foot on the housing ladder.
Councillor Conteh added: “A huge amount of innovative work is taking place to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the city, but we know that there is much still to do. Our plans for a homelessness hub are still being developed; this work is another example of how we are taking firm action to support and protect vulnerable people in our city.”
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.