Welwyn Hatfield recorded rough sleepers fall, while Hertsmere sees a rise

PUBLISHED: 08:57 01 March 2020

New initiative launched to help tackle homelessness in Stevenage. Picture: Pexels.

New initiative launched to help tackle homelessness in Stevenage. Picture: Pexels.

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield’s recorded rough sleepers fell for the second year running by 46 per cent from 2018 to 2019 – while Hertsmere borough saw an increase.

There were seven cases in Hertsmere last year, compared to four in 2018 and six in 2017 - and in Welwyn Hatfield it has been gradually reducing, moving 18 in 2017 to 13 in 2018 to six in 2019.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Nick Pace, executive member for housing and community, cited their work supporting the Hatfield night shelter by committing £120,000 to getting it started, as an example of how they are addressing the issue.

Cllr Pace said: "While it's encouraging to see this decline in rough sleeping numbers, even one person is one too many. We remain committed to this vital work, giving people access to a roof over their heads when they need it most and helping them to find employment and undertake training to help them to retain their accommodation and lead independent lives."

The council has secured £128,000 from the government's rough sleeping initiative additional, which says is "being used to continue with the council's rough sleeper navigator programme, in partnership with Resolve. "These support workers, referred to as 'navigators', provide specialist support as an extension to the council's existing outreach services, helping rough sleepers to rebuild their lives.

Resolve's Hatfield Night Shelter in Hatfield. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Resolve's Hatfield Night Shelter in Hatfield. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

"This includes advice on how to secure a home in the long term as well as access to mental health and addiction services. The money will also enable us to build an extension to the night shelter, to provide women only accommodation, as well as providing further resources to assist rough sleepers into accommodation."

The manager of drugs and alcohol charity Resolve, Joe Heeney - who operates the night shelter - added: "Since Resolve's Night Shelter opened last summer, we have seen the shelter run at capacity for most of that time, keeping people off the streets as much as possible, demonstrating the need, if ever we needed to.

"Our aspiration is that we end rough sleeping, however we know that there is still much work to be done as we see homelessness rise all over the UK and so Resolve is committed to providing our all year round shelter to provide a base from which people can get their lives back on track and live healthy, productive lives, contributing to the community in which we all live."

Councillor Jean Heywood, portfolio holder for housing at Hertsmere Borough Council, said the housing team is trying to offer rough sleepers support and they have also received additional government support.

She explained that the funding and services available for this year were for "eight rough sleepers", based on previous rough sleeping estimates but the council was still able to accommodate 18 clients.

She added: "We also received funding for a tenancy sustainment officer supporting single clients with complex needs at risk of homelessness. The officer works with clients through a targeted support plan to either sustain their current tenancy or secure longer-term accommodation."

"The tenancy sustainment officer is now a specific resource to support rough sleepers and since the [homeless] scheme has been launched we have identified many more rough sleepers than we were previously aware of.

"This is partly to do with the officer's proactive work in engaging with partners but also more awareness of such a scheme in the borough. Whilst it seems our rough sleeping numbers has increased, this is likely to be due to more awareness of rough sleepers and a greater chance that rough sleepers are staying in the borough where they have a local connection.

"We also activate a severe weather emergency protocol provision which we have activated on a number of occasions recently. Our housing team contacts all known rough sleepers to make them aware of this. Quite often, the rough sleepers do not want to take up the offer of temporary accommodation."

She asks that the public use streetlink.org.uk or the app if they want to help or connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.

If you want more information on Resolve Night Shelter please go to resolve-online.org. The homeless shelter also raises money through operating a community cafe called Sparks, which is also located at Queensway House in Hatfield.


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