Local politicians and around 20 support organisations are meeting today (Thursday) at a summit to discuss the increase in homelessness in the district and what can be done to end it.
Those attending all share a common focus; to find practical solutions for the homeless, to investigate the issues they face and to work together to resolve them.
Recent analysis of rough sleepers found that mental health issues, drugs and alcohol as well as anti-social behaviours were often associated with this group.
Susan Rutherford and Jazz Singh, Directors of LWS Night Shelter said “There is a need for a collaborative system that addresses the individual as a whole, taking into account not just their housing needs, but complex issues such as mental and physical health, substance abuse, repeat offending and unemployment.
“It is a major challenge to address all of these issues, but we are very keen to be part of the solution and welcome the opportunity to discuss this openly with multiple local agencies.”
Peter Phillips, portfolio holder for housing and property services added, “There is an urgent need to tackle the rising problem of homelessness and rough sleeping in our district and to be able to offer practical support to the voluntary sector in the amazing job they do in helping the most vulnerable people in our community.
“I very much hope that the announcement of our plans to secure a permanent home for the LWS Night Shelter and the purchase of a former hostel in Warwick to provide supported accommodation for the homeless will be a first step.
These schemes and others like it will give more opportunities for this vulnerable group of people to engage with professional agencies and accept support to address the complex issues they are facing.”
P3 are an organisation whose staff regularly go out onto the streets to look for and work with rough sleepers.
They have recently recruited a dedicated outreach worker who will be permanently based in Leamington.
Esther Barrett said: “The demands placed upon our Street Outreach service in terms of the number of people we are finding sleeping on streets of Warwickshire, is greater than ever.
“To have the funding and opportunity to expand the team and provide a dedicated outreach worker to support people sleeping on the streets in Leamington, is something that we are incredibly grateful for.”
“P3’s Street Outreach workers work hard to break down barriers and build relationships with people and our hope is that this new role will enable us to offer direct support to even more people who find themselves vulnerable and alone, sleeping on the streets.
“By working in partnership with aligned organisations we’re able to help people to access the support they need and to ensure we offer a route away from homelessness that will bring about lasting change.”
“The public also have a key role to support us in the work that we do. Leamington covers a large area and we rely on your calls to alert us to anyone seen rough sleeping.
“Please ring us direct, twenty-four seven on Freephone 0808 164 6220 or use the Street Link mobile app to report a rough sleeper. We can then act on the information and direct our support to those people in need.”
Matt Western MP for Warwick and Leamington said: “We have many organisations and people working hard to end the scourge of homelessness in our local area, and this meeting will be all about linking up this good work and finding practical solutions for those suffering from homelessness in our community.
“Homelessness has rocketed in our community in recent years, and we should be ambitious in trying to end it all together – no one in our society should be left without a roof over their head.
“It is important to work together to provide support for those currently affected by homelessness, as well as trying to change things at both a local and national level to ensure that we prevent homelessness in the first place by providing more affordable housing, for example.”
Turning to the wider health, care and support needs of the homeless, Les Cabourn, portfolio holder for health and social care said: “Warwickshire County Council has recently pledged an investment of £300,000 over two years to support homelessness, in particular, rough sleepers who may also have mental health issues and/or drugs and alcohol dependencies.
“We will be working collaboratively with partners to deliver a programme of work to help address this challenge. Delivering this in partnership is key to finding an effective solution and we look forward to working across health, social care and the third sector in beginning to tackle this important issue.”