NEW STRAT­EGY TO HELP THE HOME­LESS

South Wales Evening Post - - FRONT PAGE - LEE MAC­GRE­GOR 07798 572356 lee.mac­gre­gor@me­di­awales.co.uk

AM­BI­TIOUS pro­pos­als aim­ing to pre­vent home­less­ness and sup­port rough sleep­ers through the tough times has been un­veiled.

Swansea Coun­cil’s Home­less­ness Strat­egy is due to be in­tro­duced next month, and in­cludes five ob­jec­tives and a de­tailed ac­tion plan which aims to put the needs of those af­fected by home­less­ness at the heart of the ser­vices they re­ceive.

The ac­tion plan in­cludes cre­at­ing a Home­less­ness Char­ter which will look to de­velop a set of stan­dards about how peo­ple who are faced with home­less­ness should be treated.

There will also be an in­crease in emer­gency beds for rough sleep­ers, im­proved ac­cess to sup­port for those at risk of home­less­ness due to is­sues such as men­tal health or sub­stance mis­use and pro­to­cols de­vel­oped with all lo­cal hous­ing providers to en­sure evic­tion is a last re­sort.

An­drea Lewis, Swansea Coun­cil cabi­net mem­ber for homes and en­ergy, said the strat­egy is an im­por­tant step to­wards en­hanc­ing the al­liance of or­gan­i­sa­tions al­ready work­ing to­gether for the ben­e­fit of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple across the city.

She said: “It isn’t about words, it is about ac­tions. Home­less­ness is on the rise. A huge amount of work is al­ready be­ing done to pre­vent home­less­ness in our com­mu­ni­ties.

“This strat­egy and the ac­tions which go with it will help us to go the ex­tra mile to sup­port fam­i­lies, sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies, rough sleep­ers, those with men­tal ill­ness and oth­ers who are at risk of be­com­ing home­less or are al­ready home­less.

“Al­most three-quar­ters of those who come to the coun­cil seek­ing help be­cause they’re afraid of los­ing their home end up keep­ing a roof over their heads. That is good news and is bet­ter than the Welsh aver­age. But more needs to be done.” The chal­lenges of home­less­ness and the coun­cil’s re­sponse to it is set out in the strat­egy be­ing pre­sented to cabi­net for ap­proval on Novem­ber 15. It has been de­vel­oped fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with ser­vice users, other hous­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions and res­i­dents gen­er­ally.

The five ob­jec­tives fo­cus at­ten­tion on pre­ven­tion, en­sures the avail­abil­ity of suit­able ac­com­mo­da­tion and timely sup­port for those most at risk and aims to elim­i­nate the need for peo­ple to sleep rough.

Coun­cil­lor Lewis said: “Th­ese are am­bi­tious ob­jec­tives, they won’t be easy to meet and we can’t do it alone. The coun­cil and its part­ners will con­tinue to draw on each other’s ex­per­tise and work closely with the fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als who are home­less or at risk of los­ing their home.

“It’s a com­plex area and there are no easy so­lu­tions. There are low lev­els of rough sleep­ing in Swansea, but the trend shows num­bers have been ris­ing, just as they have been else­where. That’s some­thing we want to change.

“We want to pro­vide those who find them­selves sleep­ing rough with ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port to get them back into sta­ble ac­com­mo­da­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble. We’re de­vel­op­ing a Hous­ing First ap­proach which aims to se­cure rough sleep­ers with ap­pro­pri­ate ac­com­mo­da­tion so that their of­ten com­plex needs can also be ad­dressed.”

She added: “There is a lack of in­for­ma­tion about rough sleep­ers gen­er­ally which is one of the rea­sons why the strat­egy also calls for re­search among rough sleep­ers and for­mer rough sleep­ers to find out from them how we can help over­come bar­ri­ers, ad­dress prob­lems and se­cure ap­pro­pri­ate hous­ing for the long term.”

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