A new homelessness centre is set to open in Worcester's city centre, following a successful bid for Government funding.
The £242,601 grant will support the opening in September of a "Somewhere Safe to Stay" hub at the Salvation Army's base in The Trinity.
The scheme will be a major boost to support for people across the county who are already sleeping rough or who are at risk of ending up out on the streets. It will be available to rough sleepers who are already engaging with support services and will provide a new year-round night shelter with support workers on-site 24 hours a day.
Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee, said: "This is a positive step in the county-wide campaign to reduce rough sleeping as the funding will create a place of safety all year round, not just during the cold winter months.
"The Somewhere Safe to Stay centre will have staff available 24 hours a day, to give rapid and intensive support to help people off the streets and into accommodation."
The new centre will provide a safe environment for rough sleepers who are committed to coming off the streets. It will accommodate up to six people a night and will have shower, washing and laundry facilities to ensure the dignity of those who use it. There will also be private interview rooms so that people can receive specialised support from a range of agencies.
The aim is to create a safe space where people in crisis can have their needs assessed urgently, away from any dangers they may encounter sleeping on the streets. Support workers will work with rough sleepers in the centre to draw up an action plan to get them back into accommodation.
The funding for the new hub has been secured from the Government's Rapid Rehousing Pathway Fund following a City Council-led bid on behalf of Worcestershire's six district councils – Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester City, Wychavon and Wyre Forest.
The bid was made in partnership with the charity Caring for Communities and People (CCP), which currently runs the single homeless and childless couples homelessness prevention service for Worcestershire and will operate the new centre when it opens in September.
Funding for the shower was raised by CCP through its sponsored Big Sleep Out event, held earlier this year.
Working together to support homeless people
The Somewhere Safe to Stay hub is the latest addition to the range of services in Worcester and Worcestershire that aim to reduce the number of people sleeping rough.
In the last year these services – provided by the district councils in partnership with St Paul's Hostel, Maggs Day Centre and CCP – have helped 124 people at risk of rough sleeping to get back into housing and provided extensive support to people who are on the streets.
The MOATS outreach service actively seeks out, engages and supports rough sleepers across Worcestershire.
The No Second Night Out scheme helps people who are new to the streets to quickly move into temporary accommodation while longer term solutions are found.
Night shelters are opened whenever temperatures fall to zero or below and rapid response workers help people to access this and other services in severe weather conditions. This will continue when the Somewhere Safe to Stay hub opens.
Support is also provided to help homeless people put down a deposit to get into private rented housing and to help people with mental health issues who are discharged from hospital and may be at risk of becoming homeless.
Anyone who spots a rough sleeper can report them to Streetlink on 0300 500 0914. The information will be passed to local services, who will find and support them.