£1 million to continue vital rough sleeper work

A rough sleeper
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A highly successful rough sleeper initiative, which has seen 352 individuals taken off the streets and into permanent accommodation in less than three years, will continue for another 12 months.

Canterbury City Council's highly successful rough sleeper initiative, which has seen 352 individuals taken off the streets and into permanent accommodation in less than three years, will continue for another 12 months after the council was awarded government funding of more than £650,000.

And with another grant of just over £400,000 to continue a specific project to prevent rough sleeping among ex-prisoners, the council has successfully secured more than £1 million to carry on its work in this difficult but vital area over the next year.

Lead councillor for housing, Cllr Joe Howes, said: "This is fantastic news and I pay tribute to our incredible officers who have worked so hard to get this funding through the door once again. Their dedication to helping improve the lives of those who are sleeping rough and are so vulnerable should be shouted from the rooftops.

"We are also lucky to have such fantastic local partnerships with organisations such as Catching Lives, Forward, Porchlight, several local churches and the Department of Work and Pensions.

"I look forward to seeing many more success stories where we transform people's lives in the coming months."

The rough sleeper initiative grant means all current work can continue, which includes regular outreach, a dedicated project co-ordinator and two substance misuse workers.

The funding will also allow the council to recruit a mental wellness officer, whose role will be to support clients with their mental wellbeing and help other officers and clients access necessary services where it is felt an individual has mental health issues.

Cllr Howes said: "This money is so important because we continue to see a flow of people onto the streets. We will, of course, continue to work with individuals who are sleeping rough, but it is also essential that if someone is sofa surfing or in insecure housing, they contact us for help early so that it never gets to the point where living on the street is the only option.

"Homelessness is often a symptom of other things going on in someone's life. It's so important that we look at everything that's happening, so that any route into accommodation addresses all the issues and ensures we find the most appropriate and sustainable place to live."

Meanwhile, the scheme to prevent prisoner homelessness upon release, which began in early 2019, has now seen 191 former prisoners who would otherwise have slept rough found suitable accommodation. The latest funding will ensure this great work can carry on.

With the city council taking the role as the lead authority and the bidder for funding, it now operates in eight districts in the county. This is particularly important because of the transient nature of rough sleepers who have previously been prisoners. It allows authorities to take a much broader view of the issue.

When the project was put together, research showed around 50 per cent of prisoners in Kent had no accommodation to go to when they are released, and almost half of all rough sleepers in the county have an offending history.

Published: 17th May 2021