Council to use £195,000 of Government funding to help town’s rough sleepers

Proposals to help Swindon’s rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation have been given a major boost.

Swindon Borough Council has been awarded £194,125 by the Government to fund a range of measures to support those who find themselves living on the town’s streets.

The funding is part of the Government’s £30m Rough Sleeping Initiative Fund, which has been awarded to 83 local authorities in England.

The Council estimates there have been between 23 and 28 rough sleepers on Swindon’s streets over the last few months and the funding will be specifically targeted at those individuals who have opted not to engage with existing Council-funded services.

Part of that work will involve employing three dedicated members of staff who will deliver street and community-based outreach services to rough sleepers experiencing multiple and complex issues with alcohol, drugs or mental health. The Council will also use the funding to develop a Housing First model for up to 12 rough sleepers.  Evidence has shown that Housing First has been extremely successful in helping the most entrenched rough sleepers into secure, stable accommodation.

A proportion of the funds will focus on prevention and building on the existing ‘Key Scheme’, which supports 40 single people in the private sector who are most at risk of homelessness.

There is provision too to provide mental health training for 25 members of staff from partner agencies to help them with their work with rough sleepers.

Just under a third of the funding has also been earmarked for the Council’s Temporary Winter Housing Provision.

The project, which was run for the first time this year, offered intensive support to a dozen rough sleepers for a 12-week period with nine of those that took part having sustained permanent accommodation.

The Council spends £1.4m a year on a range of schemes to support the town’s homeless including five key supported housing schemes that specialise in street homeless, offenders, young people, and those suffering from domestic abuse.

Cllr Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I am really pleased that the Government has supported our projects to tackle the issue of rough sleeping in Swindon.

“A lot of the work that the Council does to tackle homelessness goes unseen, but I would like to assure residents that our housing team, and our partners, are working tirelessly to help those people in need. Our Temporary Winter Housing Provision and associated work with this year’s group of individuals has demonstrated our ability to develop new approaches and has been a key part of our bid that has helped draw in additional funding for Swindon. The new rough sleeper strategy will allow us to continue this work and try other means of helping a small group of people who struggle to accept and engage with the help that is offered to them.”