Councils secure additional temporary accommodation and further outreach support for vulnerable people
article submitted by West Suffolk Working Together
West Suffolk councils have secured the use of additional temporary accommodation and has taken on new outreach workers.
The councils have invested to gain the use of a 12 bedroom hostel and flats owned by the Home Group in Bury St Edmunds. The investment, initially for one year, brings the number of temporary beds available in Bury St Edmunds to just over 40 and 70 across the whole of West Suffolk. Temporary accommodation is used by the councils to help support people who are homeless. Last year West Suffolk councils helped assist and prevent more than 500 households from becoming homeless.
The availability of temporary accommodation has been under pressure due to an increase in the number of people presenting themselves to the councils as homeless. That demand for temporary accommodation is expected to continue even after the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into effect from 3 April.
Councils will continue to have a duty to prevent and relieve homelessness but on the prevention side, this will be expanded to include everyone, rather than being based on priority need and intentionality.
As part of the Act, tailored support will be developed in the form of a personal housing plan. This will look at the issues behind why someone is at risk of becoming homeless, the support that will be offered and will also agree the expectations on the individual’s behaviour and actions.
West Suffolk councils will need to access a larger pool of temporary housing, as well as private and social housing – and the Councils are keen to work with more landlords to help meet this need.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing at West Suffolk councils, said: “Placing anyone, particularly families in temporary housing is never ideal but it is sometimes necessary. The new legislation is a positive move but it is not without its challenges. West Suffolk councils will be looking for more opportunities to boost the amount of temporary accommodation that it can access, while we are also calling for private landlords to get in touch to discuss how the council can support them to provide accommodation for those who need it.”
The £45,000 investment will go toward the 24-hours-a-day cost of support staff to run the temporary accommodation. For more on the support West Suffolk councils can provide to private landlords willing to work with the Council, email:
The support that many people who are rough sleeping or at risk of homelessness need is, however, much more than just housing. With this in mind, West Suffolk councils have appointed two new outreach workers, one of whom will specialise in drugs and alcohol support. The second outreach worker will perform a similar role to the rough sleeper prevention and support worker who has been working with the councils since last year. The two new appointments follow investment by both West Suffolk councils and funds secured from Suffolk County Council Public Health.
West Suffolk councils are also already looking ahead at winter provision for 2018/19. The winter night shelter operated in partnership with Havebury Housing Partnership at Northgate Lodge in Bury St Edmunds closes at the end of March.
Karen Mayhew, Chief Executive of Havebury, said: “Our partnership with West Suffolk councils has meant that together, we have helped accommodate those in greatest need over the severe winter months.
It has been encouraging to see our community respond so positively to the Night Shelter at Northgate Lodge. We would like to thank residents for their generous donations over the past few months, and the dedicated team who have worked tirelessly to provide a safe place for those staying at the Night Shelter.”
Cllr Mildmay-White said: “The response from our community has been incredibly supportive and we, and the people that we helped, were all very grateful for that support. Our aim has always been to support rough sleepers in getting off the street rather than helping them stay on them. Over the winter we were able to offer accommodation but unfortunately not all accepted – rough sleepers have a choice whether to accept the help offered or not, but we persevered throughout.
“We are aware that there are people who are genuinely in need of help and who are rough sleeping in our towns and a small number of people who are out street begging. In all cases, our simplest message is to ask residents to think about how they give. Change doesn’t have to be about coins handed in the street but can come through supporting the charities that work with rough sleepers.”
No further donations are needed for the winter shelter. However, anyone who still wishes to donate can support a number of local charities who support vulnerable people including The Bury Drop-In Centre and Gatehouse in Bury St Edmunds, Reach Community Project in Haverhill and Newmarket Open Door.