Fresh bid to tackle record rough sleeping on Norwich’s streets

Rough sleepers in the doorway of Debenhams at Orford Place, Norwich, on Tuesday October 18 2016. Ph

Rough sleepers in the doorway of Debenhams at Orford Place, Norwich, on Tuesday October 18 2016. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

The record numbers of rough sleeping on the streets of Norwich is to be tackled through a new blueprint – which could see the creation of a 'dry house' to prevent people recovering from substance and alcohol abuse from relapsing.

And the idea of an alternative giving fund is also being explored, to encourage people to support local homelessness services rather than giving money to beggars.

Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters said there are record numbers of people sleeping rough on Norwich's streets – with recent figures showing 90 people were bedding out on pavements or in doorways.

The council is drawing up a new rough sleeping and supported housing strategy to try to stem the surging numbers and to break the cycle of homelessness.

The strategy aims to stop homelessness in the first place, but also to encourage people on the streets to accept help.

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One idea being pursued is the creation of a post-detox centre, or dry house. A need has been identified because people who have successfully undergone treatment with their alcohol or substance misuse struggle to find accommodation where people are not using alcohol or substances.

That makes it more likely those people will relapse and become homeless again.

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The strategy is also looking at whether an alternative giving fund, where people are encouraged to donate to organisations which support the homeless, rather than to beggars could work.

A new Greater Norwich Homelessness Forum has also been set up, made up of councils and organisations which help combat homelessness. It met for the first time this month.

Gail Harris, Norwich City Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for council housing said: 'As a council we are committed to preventing rough sleeping and dedicate significant resources, both in terms of prevention, and support, for anyone who finds themselves on the street.

'It's not as simple as just providing someone with housing, we need people to engage with all of the support services available to break the cycle of homelessness.

'Issues around entrenched rough sleeping can be highly complex and cannot be solved by Norwich City Council alone. We have some fantastic organisations working to support rough sleepers in Norwich and we work closely across the statutory and voluntary sector to develop innovative approaches that can truly transform people's lives.

'That's exactly what our new rough sleeping strategy sets out to achieve, guided by the new Greater Norwich Homelessness Forum, which brings together all of those partner agencies.'

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