Progress but we still have work to do
WITH Brexit convulsing Parliament, every column could cover the latest instalment in the saga.
But with events moving so fast, a piece written on Tuesday might feel rather out of date 48 hours later.
So I hope readers will forgive me if I focus instead on a vital local issue – homelessness in Cheltenham.
We should be clear: homelessness is a stain on a decent society. Every rough sleeper is a human tragedy – a living rebuke to us to do more.
That’s why no stone should be left unturned to ensure that everyone in Cheltenham has a roof over their head.
And so it was positive to see that Cheltenham’s rough sleeper official count, carried out by local charity P3 on November 13, found that the figure had dropped dramatically since last year.
It now stands at two. That is two too many and it’s also the case that these figures are just a moment in time.
But it does suggest progress is being made. It is to the credit of the skilled and compassionate work of groups like P3, CCP and Cheltenham Open Door.
And it also suggests that the £1.25million of ‘social impact bond’ funding to Gloucestershire to address entrenched rough sleeping is beginning to have a positive impact.
Directed to P3 and CCP, this cash from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government funds a personal link worker for every entrenched rough sleeper in Cheltenham as well as the Streetlink portal.
The one-on-one support helps tackle some of the complex barriers to securing and retaining accommodation and continues after the person has found housing and is off the streets.
There is still much more to do. I believe we should aspire for nothing less than the eradication of rough sleeping in Cheltenham by 2020. These figures suggest that the target is within our grasp.
Anyone wanting to report rough sleeping should contact Streetlink streetlink.org.uk, use the streetlink app, or call 0300