Work to prevent and reduce rough sleeping gains Government grant

The ongoing work by West Suffolk Council to prevent and reduce the number of people rough sleeping through help and support, has received Government backing.

The Council currently has 111 households in temporary accommodation including people who had previously been rough sleeping. Since lockdown in March it has helped more than 400 households by providing housing advice and support. This includes a small number of rough sleepers.

As well as making use of bed and breakfast and temporary accommodation, the Council put in 15 temporary cabins for a six-month period from the beginning of July to help prevent rough sleepers returning to the streets.

Now the Council, which employs a Rough Sleeper Outreach team with specialists in mental health and addiction, has secured £174,000 from the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme. The money, for 2020/21, will go toward the costs of the cabins, hotel and support costs. The Council is however, seeking further clarification over bids for funding for the following three years, as this is crucial for its long-term planning around how it will support people in a sustainable and lasting way.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Over a number of years, the Council has been making great strides in helping people away from rough sleeping through support and accommodation. Prior to this pandemic, we had seen the number of people rough sleeping in West Suffolk reduce from 36 in September 2018 when our Rough Sleeper Outreach Team was first formed, to eight in January 2020. The Covid-19 crisis has put extra challenges in our way around how we support and accommodate people. While we are aware there are still some people rough sleeping in West Suffolk, we continue to speak to them to try to get them to accept the support and accommodation available. We are working not just to further reduce rough sleeping, but also to prevent rough sleeping from reoccurring – and this funding will help towards that work.”