Canterbury City Council has been awarded government funding of £220,000 for a variety of projects to tackle rough sleeping – and more cash will be coming next year.
Among the initiatives being funded from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) grant is the recruitment of a full time rough sleeper coordinator at the council to work with its partner agencies Catching Lives and Porchlight, developing individual support plans for each rough sleeper they come into contact with.
These plans will be designed to tackle each rough sleeper’s personal needs, encouraging them into housing and helping them into education or employment, as well as providing support on any additional issues such as drug or alcohol addiction.
The funding will also be used to extend the winter shelter run by Catching Lives to provide bed spaces for six months of the year, between the start of October and the end of March, as well as increasing outreach provision locally, including in the coastal towns and in villages.
And it will pay for an expansion of the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), which kicks in during times of extreme cold. During future SWEP activations, the council and its partners can work intensively with rough sleepers to try and put in place measures that will prevent them returning to the streets.
Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “Last winter, we really caught the government’s attention with our approach to SWEP, keeping it running when most other councils had closed it down so that we could put in place extra support and interventions for rough sleepers.
“This work in particular led to us being invited to discuss the challenges we face with the government. They like to know that their money will be going to councils that make a difference and spend it on projects that will get results.
“Through the exceptionally hard work of our officers and partners in the community, from Catching Lives and Porchlight through to Street Pastors and local churches, we consistently deliver this in Canterbury.
“This funding will make a huge difference. It goes without saying that we are delighted to have secured it, and are very pleased it will be backed up by a further award next year.”
General Manager of Catching Lives, Terry Gore, said: “This new funding from the MHCLG will enable Canterbury City Council, Porchlight and Catching Lives to increase engagement with rough sleepers in and around Canterbury.
“The increased outreach presence means that we will have more time and resources to work with the most entrenched and complex people; those who need an extra level of support. We look forward to making more of a difference than ever with the help of our partners.”
Porchlight’s head of homelessness services, Chris Burgess, said: “We welcome this extra funding and are committed to working in partnership with the council to support everyone in need. We sincerely hope that this will be the beginning of the end for rough sleeping in Canterbury.”
The funding of £219,610 for 2018/19 is coming from the MHCLG’s £30 million national scheme to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping. Further funding for 2019/20 has also been agreed, with the exact amount to be announced in due course.