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Why Norwich won’t become one of the government’s new ‘rough sleeping hubs’

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant

Archant

Norwich City Council did not apply to be part of a multi-million pound scheme to tackle rough sleeping - because they believed it would not go far enough.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member with responsibility for the rough sleeping strategy. Pic: Archant Library.Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member with responsibility for the rough sleeping strategy. Pic: Archant Library.

Despite the number of rough sleepers in Norwich increasing in recent years, councillors said they chose not to seek to become one of the government’s 15 ‘rough sleeping hubs’.

The government is creating 11 such hubs through a £4.8m project, with a further four to follow next year - but Norwich will not be among them.

Ministers say the new centres, the first of which will be up and running by spring next year, will help provide immediate shelter and rapid assessment for those sleeping rough, or at risk of doing so.

Hubs will be set up in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cheshire West and Chester, Derby, Gloucestershire, Lincoln, Liverpool, Medway, Nottingham, Preston and West London.

With a further four due to be created next year, the government estimates 6,000 people will receive support through the 15 hubs.

But council leaders in Norwich have revealed they did not pursue the option to become one of the hubs.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for the rough sleeping strategy, said: “Rough sleeping is a complex issue which requires long term solutions that we did not feel would be delivered by this initiative alone.

“It would require further investment in supported housing from central government.

“Instead we are focussing on the new Pathways service which is already having a positive, meaningful impact for individuals sleeping rough in Norwich.

“This approach makes use of a variety of accommodation options provided by specialist agencies and community support in the city.”

However, the council has said it will keep the situation under review.

The Pathways scheme, a partnership of seven local organisations, was launched in July to support those in the city who find themselves without a roof over their heads.

Within the first three months, the partnership had helped more than 120 people in need, including finding them accommodation or supporting people to stay in their existing homes.

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