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Rough sleepers offered a safe place to stay

Hands holding a cardboard cut out of a house

A team dedicated to supporting homeless people in the borough is working tirelessly to keep rough sleepers off the streets and safe from the risk of COVID-19.

Our Rough Sleeper team secured accommodation for all those sleeping rough or at risk of doing so in the borough at the time of lockdown. With the help of Government funding and the Rough Sleeper team working additional hours, the council was able to house 31 people in a short space of time, many of whom have experiences of complex trauma, mental health problems and/or substance misuse issues.

Using a range of temporary and permanent accommodation options and carrying out regular welfare checks with each individual, the council has offered support to each resident to help them remain safely housed since their placement in March.

Cllr Dale Birch, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge to our housing teams. Through working together with partners and continuing to build relationships with individuals, supporting them with their individual needs, they have risen to the challenge and kept some of our most vulnerable residents safe.

“We recognise tackling rough sleeping isn’t just a case of finding temporary accommodation for someone; you need to consider the bigger picture, work with each person to help them identify their individual challenges and support them to overcome them.

“It takes commitment, not just from the council’s staff but from the individual themselves to want to make a change and engage with our services. Please bear this in mind if you see someone sleeping rough in the borough; it doesn’t necessarily mean that the team are not doing what they can to engage with them and provide them with welfare and outreach support. The best thing to do to support a rough sleeper is to notify the council.

“I’d like to recognise the efforts of those we have supported to find accommodation, as well as our staff, for taking steps towards a brighter future at such a challenging time.”

The team has also been working hard to make sure residents are not only housed but are kept well. By delivering food parcels, maintaining gas and electric top ups and working with housing officers, the team has focused on helping the individual stay safe and move forward with the goal of finding longer term housing.

Despite the pandemic, the number of people sleeping rough in the borough is now two thirds less than it was this time last year, which is testament to the work of the team.

If you are concerned someone may be sleeping rough, email a description of the rough sleeper, their location and the time sighted to: Please do not take or send photographs of people.

People in need of housing support can discuss housing options by calling 01344 352010 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).

A phone is also available in the Time Square outer lobby for those who have no access to a phone. It can be accessed both during and outside office hours.