I’m delighted that Gloucestershire has been allocated an extra £272k from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to expand a new service for entrenched homeless people.
This is for a partnership, with a funding bid led by Gloucester City Council that has secured a boost to support an extra 16 vulnerable individuals with complex needs through the ‘social impact bond’ project, ACTion Glos, delivered by P3.
ACTion Glos supports people in Gloucestershire who have been rough sleeping or are long-term homeless and face complex and overlapping barriers to accessing and staying in accommodation, such as drug/alcohol misuse, offending history, or mental ill health.
This service is aimed at those who have ‘fallen between the gaps’ previously or may have a history of using homelessness services without having their complex and challenging needs fully met. People are allocated a personal link worker who will support them on their journey to a more positive, settled and secure future. ACTion Glos works alongside and complements existing services to offer more intensive and long-term support to these individuals.
Since it launched in November 2017, 92 individuals from across the county have received support from ACTion Glos, with more people engaging with services and staying in accommodation as relationships develop and resources are acquired. It’s already funded by 'social impact bond' (SIB) funding of £990k, made available by Central Government as part of their Homelessness Prevention Programme in 2016. The extra funding could bring a total of £1.27m to the service and will increase the number of places in the SIB from 110 to 126.
Around ten individuals who are part of the SIB have volunteered to feed into research into homeless complex needs which will inform national best practice and future funding decisions.
My senior caseworker, Jennie Watkins, who is also cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Gloucester City Council, has done good work on this with officers and I’m proud of the steps forward she and the Council have made. Jennie said, “We welcome the extra funding to support vulnerable people in the city and across the wider county. Working closely with other authorities and partners is vital to making sure people get the support they need to stay in accommodation”.
What can you do to support a rough sleeper?
You can refer anyone you see who might be homeless to the local rough sleeping outreach team. Outreach will then find and engage with them, and help them access appropriate housing and support services (which could include ACTion Glos). This is easily done through the national referral tool, Streetlink – via the app, streetlink.org.uk, or 0300 500 0914 (open 24/7).
About ACTion Glos
ACTion Glos supports people in Gloucestershire who are homeless and face complex and overlapping barriers to exiting the streets for good, such as drug/alcohol misuse or mental ill health. It’s being funded by a £990k 'social impact bond' (SIB) funding made available by Central Government as part of their Homelessness Prevention Program in 2016. P3 are overseeing this project, working in partnership with CCP (Caring for Communities & People) and ARA (Addiction Recovery Agency).
What support is out there for rough sleepers?
Not all personal situations are the same, and there is a network of support from a variety of organisations available to homeless people, and those at risk of becoming homeless. In some cases, people can struggle to find and stay in accommodation because of their continued substance misuse. Unfortunately, money which is given with the best of intentions can sometimes be used to feed serious drug and alcohol habits which are dangerous for physical and mental health.
There are a range of services available to support homeless people and rough sleepers in Gloucestershire, funded by the county council and other local authority partnerships.
As part of the support network, Change Grow Live (CGL) supports those who struggle with substance misuse and they have a dedicated outreach worker for rough sleepers.
StreetLink is a national referral tool which the P3 outreach team uses to locate and make contact with rough sleepers. By understanding individual situations, P3 can link rough sleepers to the network of accommodation and support available across the city and wider county.
Residents who are at risk of being made homeless can get advice and support from the city council's housing team at Herbert Warehouse. An emergency duty team is also available if people become homeless and urgently need help out of working hours (01452 614194).
P3 also have a drop-in hub in the city where advice and help is available, and a supported housing assessment centre.
Other housing associations also provide 'START' accommodation with on-site support.
Greensquare offer community support for 'sofa surfers' and people at risk of homelessness.
ACTion Glos is a new service working with long-term homeless people with complex needs.
The Homeless Healthcare Team offer specialist physical and mental healthcare for homeless people, and Time To Heal works with homeless people in hospital to prevent them from being discharged to the street.