For the third year running Southampton City Council has welcomed government funding to help vulnerable rough sleepers off the city’s streets and into secure accommodation.
The £915,120 award from the Rough Sleeping Initiative will enable the council to build on its coordinated outreach and support work – which has seen Southampton mirror a nationwide fall in the number of people sleeping rough – and implement new programmes over the next 12 months.
The Rough Sleeping Initiative was launched in 2018 to ensure councils are equipped to provide vital services to people sleeping on the streets and ensure they have a bed and support when they need it the most. In total, local authorities across the country have access to a combined fund of £112m in 2020/21.
Southampton City Council has been working collaboratively with other organisations in the city to address rough sleeping for a number of years.
The bid for Rough Sleeping Initiative funding was made in conjunction with several local homelessness charities that provide support and accommodation, as well as other health and voluntary agencies. The council’s joint working has further been enhanced by the Street Support Network – a resource which connects people and organisations so that rough sleepers can get help and members of the public can give responsibly.
The new funding will enable the council to continue to provide:
- Outreach work on the city’s streets to identify rough sleepers and encourage them to access support services.
- Emergency beds at two of the city’s hostels, plus a new “Somewhere Safe to Stay” programme aimed at helping people who are new to sleeping on the street.
- Shared accommodation for those ready to move into a secure home but need ongoing support to manage their tenancy.
- Specialist Navigators who offer one-to-one intensive support to rough sleepers with more complex needs, having struggled in mainstream services in the past.
- Health sessions tailored for people who can’t access traditional health services.
- Rough sleeper and volunteer co-ordinators who make sure services are connected across different sectors and recruit volunteers from the community to enhance the support offering.
Additionally, the council will use the funding to provide:
- Extra supported lettings provision in Southampton.
- Additional self-contained units as an alternative to hostel living.
- A specialist clinical role to support people with physical and mental health difficulties.
- Some extra intensive support work.
More and more rough sleepers are successfully moving into supported accommodation and accepting help. According to figures compiled by the council, the total number of rough sleepers in Southampton has reduced from 29 in November 2018 to 15 in November 2019, suggesting that the Rough Sleeping Initiative funding is having a positive effect.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, said: “As we all know, rough sleeping is a national issue. In Southampton, however, we’ve all joined forces – council services, statutory teams, health care providers and charity organisations – in responding to our moral duty to prevent homelessness and help the most vulnerable members of our community. By delivering more affordable homes and working with city partners to enhance our support services, we have seen a reduction in the number of people living on our streets. I welcome this additional funding, which will help us ensure those sleeping rough have a roof over their heads and have a chance to rebuild their lives.”