Some of Swindon’s most vulnerable people are finally able to come in from the cold as the Council’s winter homeless provision welcomes its first guests of this week.

Following the success of last year’s scheme, the Council’s Temporary Winter Housing Provision has launched again this year and the 12 people who will be taking part have started to move in to their new temporary home.

The programme sees an identified group of rough sleepers in Swindon given shelter and close personal support in an effort to secure permanent accommodation.

And this year, the scheme, based at the former Riverside School off Queen’s Drive, is accompanied by the opening of a new day centre. The Haven, as it is known, will be run for the next three years by Swindon Night Shelter, a charity that offers support to homeless people in thw town.

The Haven day centre will act as a first point of contact for rough sleepers to access vital services such as mental health provision and drug and alcohol support.

Councilor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “I am extremely pleased to see this year’s guests moving into the facility and I am confident that we can work with them to make the programme a big success.

“Help is out there for every rough sleeper in Swindon. The Temporary Winter Housing Provision is in addition to the services the Council already provides all year round. It is an alternative option to give intensive help and support to some rough sleepers who have found it difficult to engage with the support we already offer.

“Over the coming weeks and months we will be working closely with our rough sleepers to ensure they get the support they need and I would like to thank everyone, especially the volunteers, who has been involved in making sure the programme goes ahead.”

Each year, the Council spends £1.4m on providing a variety of accommodation options for the homeless.

The focus however, is firmly on prevention, with the majority of the work done by housing officers going towards ensuring that people do not become homeless in the first place.

The winter housing programme has received warm praise from Wiltshire and Swindon’s Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson.

He said: “It’s unacceptable in a developed society like ours that people are living on the streets of our towns and cities, so I welcome Swindon Council’s winter housing scheme.

“Homelessness isn’t cured just by having a shelter. People can become homeless for a variety of reasons including poor mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, relationship breakdown. Therefore, we need to address the issues which can trigger homelessness.”

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