Progress but we still have work to do

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP for Chel­tenham

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But with events mov­ing so fast, a piece writ­ten on Tues­day might feel rather out of date 48 hours later.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, use the streetlink app, or call 0300

500 0914.

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