The support available to rough sleepers in West Berkshire Council will receive a boost thanks to a £200,000 grant from the Government.
A number of new initiatives will be enabled by the funding including the recruitment of outreach and project workers to engage with a community which is often hard to reach and a fund to help remove barriers to finding stable accommodation.
The funding was secured following a successful bid by West Berkshire Council to a £30 million Rough Sleeper Initiative Grant created by the Government. The bid was created with the support and involvement of local partners including A2 Dominion, Sovereign Housing Association, Loose Ends, Eight Bells, Two Saints (hostel), Adult Social Care, Healthwatch West Berkshire, Thames Valley Police, Swanswell, West Berkshire Homelessness Charity, Greenham Common Trust, CCG.
These organisations work together as part of the Homelessness Forum and will be working to implement and help support the initiatives outlined in the application.
The cash will be used to support a number of initiatives including an additional outreach worker, two floating support workers and a dual diagnosis worker to help those with mental health or substance misuse issues.
It will also support a number of funds to secure suitable accommodation, items which create a barrier to housing such as rent deposit and previous arrears, a health visitor resource based at a partner office to assist with accessing healthcare locally and a project worker to mobilise the project and work on the business case for a West Berkshire Wellbeing Centre for rough sleepers, plus an extension to the prison release scheme to allow more time for people leaving prison to find somewhere to live so that they don’t become rough sleepers.
Hilary Cole, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness said: “We are delighted to receive this grant money and have given a great deal of thought to the initiatives that it will fund. They will all make the most positive impact and provide the most practical benefits to rough sleepers. Homelessness and rough sleeping in a priority for the council. Our figures for rough sleepers fluctuate as there are so many factors that can contribute to someone finding themselves in this position. While it is not possible to control these factors, the funding will enable us to greatly increase the help and support that we can offer to rough sleepers.”
As well as being awarded this funding West Berkshire has also recently been selected as one of only 25 areas nationally to implement the Making Every Adult Matter programme. It has been established to develop coordinated, effective support for people experiencing multiple needs. Statutory agencies and the voluntary sector are working together in West Berkshire to transform the lives of people experiencing a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system and mental ill health.
Anyone aware of someone rough sleeping in the district should contact the council’s Housing Options Team (01635) 519530.