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Homelessness halved thanks to £200k pot

By Carl Jackson | Stafford | News | Published:

Homelessness has been halved in Stafford thanks to a six-figure cash injection secured to tackle the problem - as well as the work of a guardian 'angel'.

Cllr Jeremy Pert (cabinet member for communities), Jo Young (team leader) and Tom Harrison (director of supporting living) outside Midland Heart's Eagle House in Stafford

The number of rough sleepers has reduced to seven this winter from 15 at the tale end of 2016.

It comes after Stafford Borough Council was awarded £211,629 from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

As a result the authority became one of the first to launch its 'Housing First' project in conjunction with supported accommodation Midland Heart, which has helped house a number of people.

While the council's housing team was the first in the Midlands to be awarded the Government's Gold Standard and has been credited with preventing around 600 people becoming homeless last year.

The money has also supported the work of Community Matron Suzanne Rigby who has been dubbed the 'Angel of Stafford' by those on the streets who she helps.

Councillor Jeremy Pert, communities chief, said: "We know each and every rough sleeper and due to a lot of targeted intervention our numbers are down by 50 per cent against this time last year - thanks to initiatives like our Community Matron working with those who are homeless and those sleeping rough and through the Housing First programme, which aims to get people to be able to sustain their tenancy for the long term with appropriate support and input.

“Putting a roof over someone's head is not the major issue – it is ensuring that they keep a roof over their head that is the challenging part.

"We need them to work with us and other agencies so that they can address the issues that will jeopardise their ability to sustain housing for the long term."

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For those still on the streets the council has ensured a homeless night shelter is available when severe weather hits such as the recent heavy snowfall.

Councillor Pert added: "There is cold weather night shelter provision in Stafford with a back-up, if that is full, of using bed and breakfast accommodation.

"So we can always find accommodation for those sleeping out on our streets - unless we were unable to because they would pose a risk to others.”

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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