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Support keeps homeless people off the streets and helps them move on with their lives

Published: Friday, 22nd January 2021

Targeted support to help homeless people and rough sleepers is keeping people off the streets in Stoke-on-Trent – and helping more people into permanent long-term accommodation.

National data for both 2019 and 2020 shows that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is one of the best performing local authorities in preventing and relieving homelessness.* In November 2020, council teams successfully helped 84 per cent of households threatened with homelessness to avoid homelessness. Since April 2020, council teams have successfully prevented or relieved homelessness for 659 households.

But the council recognises that there is still more work to do to support homeless people and rough sleepers in the city and continues to work with a range of partners to achieve this. The authority commissions and works with local support services such as Brighter Futures and Concrete to identify and support rough sleepers and those who find themselves without a home in finding accommodation. Both services ensure people are supported to access additional support for other issues they may be facing that have contributed to them becoming homeless. The city council also commissions a wide range of support specifically for homeless households and people sleeping rough, including:

  • Physical and mental healthcare specialists;
  • A drug and alcohol support worker;
  • Navigators to support people coming out of prison or being released from hospital to find suitable accommodation;
  • Peer support from people with lived experiences of being homeless or sleeping rough, to help people make the transition into their own home and longer-term into work and training.

In March 2020, the city council responded rapidly to the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ scheme, launched to ensure all homeless people were moved off the streets and into safe accommodation at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. By the end of August 2020, the city council had offered accommodation to 322 individuals under the scheme with 290 people taking up accommodation and subsequently supported into long-term sustainable accommodation with only 31 people – nine per cent - returning to rough sleeping. The city council is currently supporting 55 former rough sleepers in hotels and within its own homeless units across the city during the current national lockdown, and will again offer targeted support to them all to move on from the streets.

To support homeless households throughout the winter, the city council is using over £1 million of funding secured from the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme, Cold Weather and Protect Funds to provide additional support and security in The Crown Hotel, in Longton. This funding will allow Brighter Futures, who are providing support at the hotel, to safely engage with residents to help identify and address underlying issues that have led to homelessness. It will also ensure they are conforming to regulations around lockdown restrictions and self-isolation, and at the same time minimise the impact on the local community.

The council is also looking into ways to help to best provide support in other areas of the city, so that services are available locally in the north of the city, alongside established services in the centre of the city – in the city centre – and in the south of the city, such as those at The Crown Hotel.

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “I am pleased that so many people have been supported to move off the streets and to move forward with their lives. These figures are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our council teams and our partners. We have worked incredibly hard with our partners throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to safely support homeless people and to enable them to follow lockdown and self-isolation rules.

“We know that people who find themselves homeless don’t just need a roof over their heads – they often have other complex issues that also need addressing, and working with our partners, specialist teams have supported many people to start to address and overcome these issues. We know there is continued work to do, and we are committed to working with partners and to support people to move off the streets.”

As the temperatures outside are dropping, the city council are committed to continuing to work closely with partners, including the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper Outreach Team to ensure nobody has to sleep on the streets during the cold weather.

Councillor Brown added: “I would encourage anybody who sees someone sleeping rough in the city to contact the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper Outreach Team via the free phone number – 0800 970 2304.  You can access the number 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the team will support that person to access secure accommodation. During the colder periods, the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated, meaning that anyone sleeping rough when temperatures drop to below freezing will be offered emergency accommodation and that people have a warm place to stay.”

-Ends-

Notes to the editor:

*In cases where a homelessness duty was closed in December under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017,  the 84 per cent figure surpasses the local target of 60 per cent and the national average of 50 per cent. Figures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-homelessness

For more information on Brighter Futures’ services, visit www.brighter-futures.org.uk.

For more information on Concrete’s services, visit https://thisisconcrete.org.uk/

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.

stoke.gov.uk/news

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