Project to reduce rough sleeping launches in Worcestershire

A rough sleeper bedding down in the street

Housing First, a new approach to helping rough sleepers back into permanent accommodation, is being launched in Worcestershire this month.

Worcester City Council, working with each of the five district councils across Worcestershire, led a successful bid for funding from the Government to trial the service for one year. Additional money from the City Council and Worcestershire County Council has enabled this to be extended to two years. £435,000 will be invested in the project overall.

Housing First is an approach which provides a stable, independent home to rough sleepers with multiple and complex needs, supporting them with intensive personalised support and case management. There are no conditions around 'housing readiness' before an individual is provided with a home; rather, secure housing is viewed as a stable platform from which other issues can be addressed.

The Worcestershire Housing First service will play an important role in delivering the objectives of the recently updated Worcestershire Homelessness and Rough Sleepers Strategy. The service is being run as a partnership between local councils, Public Health, St. Paul's Hostel and housing providers including Platform Housing Group and Citizen.

St Paul's Hostel, based in Worcester, is providing the staffing for the service, utilising their experience of running Psychologically Informed Environments and Trauma Informed Care.

The pilot will support more than 30 rough sleepers across Worcestershire with the aim of helping them to end their rough sleeping for good.

Individuals will be given stable, affordable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. This will help them to address any needs they have arising from issues such as mental ill health and substance misuse, and to sustain their tenancy in their new home.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council, said: "Housing First is the latest and most ambitious new service to tackle rough sleeping across Worcestershire. It will build on other initiatives launched in our city and county in recent years, and we hope will make a significant and lasting contribution to reducing rough sleeping."

Ginette Sadler, of St Paul's Hostel, is the Housing Service Manager. She said: "We want to end homelessness and Housing First is aimed at people for whom all other housing options have not worked. Personally, I am looking forward to the challenge of leading this new service and making an impact across Worcestershire."

Housing First is an approach to helping rough sleepers get back into long-term accommodation that has been tried in countries around the world. Evidence from the US, Denmark, France and Italy among others shows it has been successful in providing rough sleepers with the support they need to get off the streets and to rebuild their lives.

In the UK, the Government has already invested nearly £25 million in three large-scale Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands. The Worcestershire Housing First pilot is not connected with these national pilots, but connections have been made to the West Midlands pilot in order to share learning.

The Worcestershire based Homeless Foundation – who in 2017 pioneered the iKozie self-contained, fully-fitted, ergonomically designed single person home in Worcester – are supporting the project with their Move-In Grants to purchase essential items. Worcester City Parish Relief in Need Charity are also supporting the project with small grants for participants. 

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