New funding secured to help rough sleepers

Nobody makes it their life ambition to become a rough sleeper, says Dr Jan Sheldon

A homeless person sleeping in a doorway. Photo: Getty Images/saints4757 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A scheme to expand support for homeless people in a coastal town has received a significant funding boost.

East Suffolk Council has secured an additional £389,482 to help support rough sleepers in the district.

In September last year, the council received £93,312 as part of the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) to provide accommodation and support to rough sleepers during the pandemic.

Now, following another successful funding bid, an additional £389,482 has been secured from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in the next stage of the programme.

It will see the council deliver a scheme in partnership with Orwell Housing to provide support and long-term move-on accommodation to homeless people in Lowestoft.

The scheme will provide housing for former rough sleepers where they can live for up to two years, ensuring they have a roof over their head and access to the support needed to help keep them off the streets.

To deliver this vital service, a vacant home in Lowestoft will be turned into a seven-bed house of multiple occupancy to accommodate the clients who require this specialist, supported accommodation.

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Orwell Housing will lease the property from the council and provide ongoing management, care and support for the residents.

Change of use plans for 141 St Peters Street in Lowestoft were approved in January.

Change of use plans for 141 St Peters Street in Lowestoft were approved in January. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes 

Last month, change of use plans to turn a home at 141 St Peters Street in Lowestoft into a seven-bedroom house of multiple occupancy (HMO) as part of the scheme "to accommodate some of the current rough sleepers" in Lowestoft was unanimously approved.

Richard Kerry, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Housing, said: “We welcome this additional funding from the Government and we will use it to build on all the good work that has taken place during the pandemic to help vulnerable people on the path to a secure life, with a place they can call home.”

Wendy Evans-Hendrick, chief executive officer at Orwell Housing, said: “We are excited to be able to build on our partnership working with East Suffolk Council and expand our homeless services with this specialist accommodation in Lowestoft.”

As a response to Covid-19, East Suffolk Council has placed 38 homeless people in emergency accommodation to prevent them from rough sleeping during a public health emergency.

The council has been able to secure permanent offers of accommodation for 34 of these people and the remaining four are currently in emergency accommodation until a suitable offer can be made.