Worcestershire Homeless Rough Sleeping Project

Housing First, a new Worcestershire Homeless approach to helping rough sleepers back into permanent accommodation, is being launched in Worcestershire this month. Worcester City Council, working with each of the five district councils across Worcestershire, led a successful bid for funding from the Government to trial the service for one year. Additional money from the City Council and Worcestershire County Council has enabled this to be extended to two years. £435,000 will be invested in the project overall.

Housing First is an approach which provides a stable, independent home to rough sleepers with multiple and complex needs, supporting them with intensive personalised support and case management. There are no conditions around ‘housing readiness’ before an individual is provided with a home; rather, secure housing is viewed as a stable platform from which other issues can be addressed.

The Worcestershire Housing First service will play an important role in delivering the objectives of the recently updated Worcestershire Homelessness and Rough Sleepers Strategy. The service is being run as a partnership between local councils, Public Health, St. Paul’s Hostel and housing providers including Platform Housing Group and Citizen. St Paul’s Hostel, based in Worcester, is providing the staffing for the service, utilising their experience of running Psychologically Informed Environments and Trauma Informed Care.

The pilot will support more than 30 rough sleepers across Worcestershire with the aim of helping them to end their rough sleeping for good. Individuals will be given stable, affordable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. This will help them to address any needs they have arising from issues such as mental ill health and substance misuse, and to sustain their tenancy in their new home.

homeless worcestershire
A homeless beggar man sitting in front of wooden gate outdoors in city, asking for money donation.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council, said: “Housing First is the latest and most ambitious new service to tackle rough sleeping across Worcestershire. It will build on other initiatives launched in our city and county in recent years, and we hope will make a significant and lasting contribution to reducing rough sleeping.”

Cllr Natalie Mcvey, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough in our district. Housing First will help us increase the support already available to those who need it most.”

Cllr Christopher Day, Executive Board member for Housing. Health and Wellbeing on Wychavon District Council, said: “Together with other commitments we’ve made in our new Council Strategy, Housing First will take us a step closer to bringing an end to rough sleeping in Wychavon.”

Cllr Nicky Martin, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Health and Wellbeing said: “One of our top priorities here in Wyre Forest is to see good quality and affordable homes for all. The Housing First approach has proved to be very successful in other areas and offers a comprehensive package of wrap-around support to meet the specific needs of entrenched rough sleepers and give them the very best chance of coming off and staying off the streets. This latest initiative will complement all of the other work we are doing here in the district to make sure local people have a stable and decent home.”

Cllr Shirley Webb, Bromsgrove District Council’s Portfolio-holder for Strategic Housing, Health and Well-being, said: “While we have no reports of rough sleepers in Bromsgrove, we want to keep it this way as everyone should have a roof over their heads in this day and age. By taking part in this pilot, where vital services are offered to meet the complex needs of people who find themselves without a home, and continuing to work with our partners, we can meet our strategic priority of providing affordable and sustainable homes for everyone.”

Cllr Craig Warhurst, Redditch Borough Council’s Portfolio-holder for Housing, said: “Finding Somewhere to Live is one of our Key Strategic Priorities and we have already delivered some great success stories with our partners and charities across Redditch to offer help and support where we can. So of course we are delighted to support this trial with Housing First when it means long-term support can be offered to those who find themselves sleeping rough in Redditch.”

Ginette Sadler, of St Paul’s Hostel, is the Housing Service Manager. She said: “We want to end homelessness and Housing First is aimed at people for whom all other housing options have not worked. Personally, I am looking forward to the challenge of leading this new service and making an impact across Worcestershire.”

Housing First is an approach to helping rough sleepers get back into long-term accommodation that has been tried in countries around the world. Evidence from the US, Denmark, France and Italy among others shows it has been successful in providing rough sleepers with the support they need to get off the streets and to rebuild their lives.

In the UK, the Government has already invested nearly £25 million in three large-scale Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands. The Worcestershire Housing First pilot is not connected with these national pilots, but connections have been made to the West Midlands pilot in order to share learning.

The Worcestershire Homeless Foundation – who in 2017 pioneered the iKozie self-contained, fully-fitted, ergonomically designed single person home in Worcester – are supporting the project with their Move-In Grants to purchase essential items. Worcester City Parish Relief in Need Charity are also supporting the project with small grants for participants.

If you want to know more information about Worcestershire Homeless reach out to me on email or you can reach out to me on social media where I will be happy to answer any questions you have.