Safe as houses

City council project is getting more rough sleepers into homes of their own

A LIVERPOOL city council plan to provide people who sleep rough with a ‘bricks and mortar’ solution to their accommodation issues is getting real results.

Since September, the council’s Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI) has taken 51 people off the streets and into accommodation. This includes 34 people who have gone straight into a place of their own.

In June, the council received a £280,000 funding boost from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), to support people off the streets and into long-term accommodation.

Working with Liverpool YMCA, New Start, Excel Housing Solutions and the Whitechapel Centre, the money has been used to recruit five new members of support staff to work with people who sleep rough – to help them find accommodation and thrive in their new housing by ensuring they can access the services they need.

Liverpool’s Director of Adult Services, Martin Farran, explains: “We adopted an approach that put the needs of the individual at the centre and developed a strategy that was both flexible and personal.

“We wanted to give people the hope and reassurance that they were coming off the streets and into a place where they could find safety and stability on a permanent basis. We worked closely with our partners to identify properties that would meet the needs of the individuals. It’s also important that support staff gain the trust of individuals and give them a sense of ownership over the process.”

Mr Farran added: “The most important factor was that we had to provide these solutions quickly to ensure that people were settled in their new accommodation before the winter. Thanks to the efforts of our delivery partners, we are delighted to say we have achieved this.”

The RSI project worked with a variety of people in need, including those currently in temporary accommodation or using the Labre House Rough Sleeper night hub, those who would not consider temporary accommodation and people with no recourse to public funds who were ready for work.

The council invests £11m a year on services specifically targeted at people who are at risk of homelessness. The Labre House Rough Sleeper night hub opens every night of the year and takes anyone rough sleeping in Liverpool who wants to come inside, regardless of their background or circumstances. The council also funds more than 700 temporary accommodation spaces and last year provided help and advice to over 5000 households at risk of becoming homeless.

In October alone, council-funded outreach workers encouraged 55 rough sleepers to come inside and seek help, whilst 115 people were placed in temporary accommodation.

Liverpool City Council Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan said: “The immediate support we provide to people who sleep rough to get them off the streets and into safety is the very visible side of what the council and our partners do. In fact, this is only a relatively small part of the work taking place. We want to provide lasting solutions to the issues that the city’s people on the streets face and that means supporting as many as possible to make the transition from the street to temporary accommodation to long-term accommodation.

“Our aim is to go much further than supporting people out of rough sleeping. We are putting the mechanisms in place to keep them off the streets for good and to turn their lives around.”

Tom’s Journey

STABILITY has long been an issue for twenty-something Tom.

He has had a less than positive start in life, which is the probable root cause of the issues he has faced.

Tom isn’t his real name but his story is.

After promising start with a career as a painter and decorator, Tom developed an issue with drugs, this led to an all-consuming addiction and ultimately to the streets and a lifestyle dictated by the need to feed his habit.

With three hard years of rough sleeping behind him, Tom was reluctant to trust the people who were trying to help him.

Outreach workers from the Whitechapel Centre, who are funded by Liverpool City Council, were trying to build up a positive working relationship with him but, having been let down in the past, he was naturally sceptical.

Over the past three years, Tom has had 10 different temporary accommodation places across Merseyside, all of which had broken down.

But, until now he had not been offered a permanent tenancy, so he was referred onto the Rough Sleeper Initiative.

Support workers arranged for him to view a flat and made sure he was happy with it before he made the move. It was a big step for someone who had become so used to living on the streets but the team supported Tom all the way through the process to listen to his concerns and allay any fears he had.

Tom moved in during October and already he is making great progress.

He is getting help with his drug problem and has not been seen begging or rough sleeping since the day he took up the tenancy.

The flat has become Tom’s focus and he’s even put his decorating skills to good use in doing it up. In his own words, Tom is enjoying time away from the streets and feeling positive about the future.

He continues to be supported by the Rough Sleeper Initiative team who go with him for his various appointments and keep him focussed on his recovery.

He even asked the team to take ‘before and after’ photos of him from his rough sleeping days and since he moved in to remind of how far he has come in such a short space of time.

Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “The fact that Tom had a permanent address provided him with a little bit of stability in his life which the team could then build on. By showing commitment to him and investing in his future Tom has a sense of direction and a goal to aim for.”

“This approach does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. It looks at the needs of the individual and the challenges they face and works with them to find a way forward.”

“Above all, it gives people like Tom the confidence they need to make the changes and improve their lives.”

ENDS

Categories: Community, Community Safety, and Housing. Tags: homelessness, Labre House, and rough sleepers. Tags: , ,