District Councils awarded funding to tackle rough sleeping

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A combined bid from Wycombe, Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern & South Bucks councils to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has resulted in an award of £576,500 to continue their successful programme to support rough sleepers into accommodation.

Many people sleeping on the street suffer from long term complex issues, often linked to substance abuse or mental health. The district councils have secured partnerships with a range of different agencies and service providers, including Aylesbury Homeless Action Group, Oxford Health, Oasis Partnership, Advance Housing, Vale of Aylesbury Housing, the Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Connection Support, Wycombe Homeless Connection, bed and breakfast providers and homelessness support agencies across the county, to continue working with and supporting rough sleepers.

The funding awarded to the district councils will enable them to:

  • increase the amount of emergency accommodation available, whilst longer term appropriate accommodation solutions are sought;
  • further enhance the outreach service : working directly  with rough sleepers who have alcohol and drug issues;
  • increase the dedicated mental health outreach service for those rough sleeping or at risk of homelessness;
  • continue to employ six specialist housing support workers across the county to provide both prevention and ongoing tenancy support for those placed into accommodation.

This year’s programme is a collaboration between district and county officers, stakeholders and partners and is intended to provide a county wide, joined up, approach to ending rough sleeping by the government’s target date of 2027.

Since the project commenced AVDC has placed 91 clients into a form of accommodation, while seeking longer-term housing solutions, and has a current extended winter provision, of up to 8  emergency bed spaces available until the end of February.

Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks areas have partnerships with Wycombe Homeless Connection and, in addition to this funding; have also received cold weather funding which has facilitated a bed for all rough sleepers over winter in the High Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks areas.

Cllr Mark Winn, AVDC Cabinet Member for Communities said: “This funding is both welcome and very necessary. I have been out on the night patrols and have met a number of people sleeping rough in Aylesbury. I am aware that many have very complex needs that will require a considerable amount of specialist support and intervention if we are to enable them to change the direction of their lives.

“The money that has been awarded to us will mean we can sustain and develop the partnerships we have with a number of  local charities, specialist service agencies and housing providers. It is only by working together we will be able eliminate rough sleeping in towns across the county.”

Cllr Julia Langley, Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, said: “By working in partnership across the county, we’re able to provide a holistic, needs-based service to provide accommodation, support and dedicated access to mental health and substance misuse professionals. Ultimately, this leads to a better, long term outcome for the people we are helping to find homes and stop sleeping rough.”

Cllr Patrick Hogan, South Bucks District Council Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities said: “There are many reasons why someone might find themselves sleeping rough, and it’s vital that the support is available for people when it happens. Our successful funding bid will enable us to make a real difference.”

Cllr Liz Walsh, Chiltern District Council Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities said: “Taking a county-wide approach to tackling rough sleeping means we can get a bigger picture of the issues which result in homelessness and take action to support people into accommodation. I’m delighted that this joint funding has been awarded to the four district councils and look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”