Council gets share of cash to fight growing rough sleepers problem

With the numbers of rough sleepers in Hastings on the rise Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has been awarded additional money by central government to help tackle the problem.

Peter Chowney, leader of HBC says Hastings and Eastbourne councils submitted a joint bid for additional funding to help rough sleepers and have been awarded £664,000. Mr Chowney points out that between 2012 and 2017 the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough locally has gone up four-fold, with around 45 sleeping rough on Hastings streets on any one night, and about the same number in Eastbourne. The new money will be used to implement schemes  to reduce levels of rough sleeping.

Mr Chowney says: “This new money is in addition to the council rough sleeper support services, as well as multi-agency teams offering tenancy support, addiction support, the GP service and of course Seaview, a local charity working with rough sleepers, where HBC funds an outreach worker to make contact with local rough sleepers.”

Council leader Peter Chowney (centre) was joined by l-r Hastings Mayor Nigel Sinden, Councillor Leah Levane, Maya Evans and Deputy Mayor James Bacon last weekend to take part in The Big Sleep to raise awareness of levels of rough sleeping and raise cash for local charity Seaview.

The new funding is to provide more support services, temporary accommodation, and long-term housing solutions for rough sleepers. Additional services that will be funded include:

  • appointment of a rough sleeper project co-ordinator;
  • setting up a new multi-disciplinary team to carry out assessments of each
  • individual’s needs and provide direct access to key statutory services, as well as
  • offering temporary and long-term housing solutions;
  • creating an Assessment Unit to provide temporary accommodation for rough
  • sleepers for between 1 to 3 months, while the multi-disciplinary team assess their
  • needs and identify suitable move on options to long term housing;
  • running a ‘housing first’ pilot, getting rough sleepers with multiple and complex
  • needs into accommodation where a dedicated team of workers, alongside the multi
  • disciplinary team, will offer intensive support to help participants maintain a
  • tenancy and sort out other health, mental health, and addiction problems.

Mr Chowney explains that rough sleepers are attracted to south coast towns, where it’s warmer. Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, and Southend have the highest numbers of rough sleepers in the country, relative to their population. He says that most rough sleepers in Hastings originate from outside the borough but are attracted here partly because of the support services available. He hopes the new monies can be used to help all rough sleepers into accommodation, wherever they come from.

He says: “This is a very resource-intensive programme, and requires a lot of care and support for each individual participant. But positive as this is, it is short-term, and a sticking plaster. It has only become necessary because of cuts in mental health and other support services that have led to people sleeping rough, along with insecure tenancies and the desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing.”

The Big Sleep has been running in Hastings for a number of years, raising money to tackle the growing problem of rough sleeping

Announcing the award of grants to a total of 83 areas around the country Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “Our Rough Sleeping Strategy set out the blueprint to end rough sleeping by 2027. Now, we are vigorously taking the steps to make that happen.

“The funding through our Rough Sleeping Initiative is already making a real difference in helping support those off the streets into services and accommodation this year. But there is still work to do and that’s why we are supporting these areas with further funding to ensure progress continues to be made and vulnerable people are supported into services and accommodation.

“The government’s expert Rough Sleeping Initiative Team has closely monitored the progress of the schemes developed from the first £30 million.

“Alongside the £34 million allocated today, the government has set aside a further £11 million for spending on additional areas and projects to those supported by the Rough Sleeping Initiative and will announce further details in due course.”

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