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© Russell Jacobs

© Russell Jacobs

Local councils and voluntary organisations step up to help the homeless live, work, thrive

Due to Government funding during the initial stage of lockdown there was a great effort to get the homeless off the street and housed in hotels, hostels or whatever accommodation could be found. That funding, sadly, did not last a year. Now, however, with the realisation of the difference a secure place to live can make, voluntary organisation are working together to support the homeless.  HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths was interested to find out how they and local councils are stepping up to help those who have fallen through the system.

Back in March last year during the first Covid pandemic lockdown the government implemented an Everyone In scheme, giving funding to councils to help get the vulnerable off the streets and into temporary self-contained accommodation. Everyone In only applies to rough sleepers – the council has a duty to house those evicted or threatened with eviction. The latest Seaview survey found 16 rough sleepers, ie those who have declined the offer of accommodation.

Live, Work, Thrive

© Harry Tryphonos

© Harry Tryphonos

Hastings and Rother councils, together with Education Futures Trust, Fellowship of St Nicholas and Sussex Community Development Association have taken this homelessness project on with a new initiative, the Live, Work, Thrive Project,  working with people who are sleeping rough or at risk of so doing to support their participation in training or education, to help them find employment and a long-term home, as well as improve their physical and mental health which, in turn, goes some way in raising confidence and self-esteem.

The Live Work Thrive Coaches provide intensive support to participants and work holistically with people to help them set and achieve goals to aid them out of homelessness.

According to government figures, as part of the Everyone In initiative, approximately 15,000 rough sleepers and others at risk of homelessness were placed in emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to government figures bout 15,000 people were accommodated during the Everyone In initiative. An article in The Lancet estimated that the measures prevented more than 21,000 infections and 266 deaths.

Rise in women sleeping rough

Recently the Guardian highlighted a dramatic rise in women sleeping rough; according to St Basil’s, a charity in the West Midlands, 35% of those using these services were young women. This could be due to  job losses as well as attendant reasons like domestic violence and mental health issues.

Finding homes to rent

The Live, Work, Thrive team have been supporting participants to find affordable and good quality private rented accommodation, but this is a challenge in the changing Hastings climate where house prices and consequently rents have escalated.

© Russell Jacobs

© Russell Jacobs

Having stable accommodation is often the first step to finding employment. The council is putting a call out for local landlords or agents interested in their landlord offer or leasing scheme, or a local employer who can offer employment or volunteering opportunities (please contact Ella Hancock at liveworkthrive@hastings.gov.uk).

Cllr Andy Batsford, Hastings Borough Council Cabinet member for Housing, said, “The Live, Work, Thrive project has been up and running since October last year, and despite the challenges of the pandemic, is already achieving great outcomes, supporting people to access volunteering opportunities, start training courses and find employment locally. The team has recently been trained to deliver tenancy training to clients, giving them the knowledge and skills to maintain a happy tenancy in the private rented sector.

“A key part of the support the Live, Work, Thrive Coaches offer is helping their clients navigate existing statutory and voluntary services available, and making referrals where necessary. In this way the project is achieving the best outcomes for its service users, but also increasing the amount of collaboration between local agencies.”

Innovative housing project in London 

© Harry Tryphonos

© Harry Tryphonos

Having seen the achievable results of housing the homeless, other initiatives are also going to creative lengths to help this vulnerable group. There’s a new scheme on the way in London  to provide sustainable and cost-effective, single-person housing for London’s homeless population.

Over the next five years The Salvation Army, Citizens UK and housing developer Hill have formed Foundation 200 with the intention of  building up to 200 stackable ‘pod’ homes in London. It apparently costs less than £47,000 each to build these single occupancy dwellings that will be fully furnished with kitchen and bathroom facilities and, according to the developers, are energy efficient with estimated running costs of about £5 per week.

Live Work Thrive is partly funded by Connecting Hastings and Rother Together (CHART). CHART is a Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme with access to £235,000 in European Social Funds (ESF) to support projects that bring a fresh approach to tackling deep-rooted problems. Established by the European Union, ESF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, skills development, job creation, social inclusion and local community regeneration. For more information see here.

 

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Posted 18:36 Sunday, Jul 11, 2021 In: Local Government

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