THE Government has announced funding for a network of hubs to help rough sleepers, with three clustered in the North West, but they won’t be up and running until spring next year.
All told, there will be 11 of these specialist ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ centres across the country, with Preston, Liverpool, and Cheshire West & Chester the locations for the three Northern hubs
Between them, they are expected to help thousands of vulnerable people get the specialist support they need to escape life on the streets.
The centres will provide immediate shelter and rapid assessment for those sleeping rough, or who are at risk of doing so, says the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). They will also provide specialist support to those with complex needs, such as mental health problems and substance misuse.
“No one should ever have to face a night on the streets, and as a government we are taking steps to ensure people are never faced with this as their only option,” said communities secretary James Brokenshire MP.
“These are vulnerable people, who may be dealing with complex mental health problems or addictions and require specialist help to tackle these issues and turn their lives around.
“That’s why these vital new hubs will ensure those on the streets have access to professional help and guidance to start their recovery.”
The Government has announced up to £4.8 million to fund the new hubs, adding that the measure builds on the first year of its Rough Sleeping Initiative, which was launched in March.
A further four of these new hubs are expected to follow the first 11 next year.
“These will offer much needed emergency shelter where people in crisis can have their needs assessed urgently away from the extreme dangers of sleeping on the streets,” said Howard Sinclair, chief executive of homelessness charity, St Mungo’s.
“Crucially, these services will be targeted at those at immediate risk of sleeping rough. We will be encouraging a thorough evaluation of these pilots and want to see the learning used to roll out an approach to every area of the country that means no one who is homeless has to sleep rough before they receive the support they need.”
Each centre will help those sleeping rough to be quickly assessed by specialist outreach workers, so they get the support they need to take the first steps towards recovery.
The hubs will play a “vital” role in identifying the issues that led to an individual sleeping on the streets in the first place, and provide support to help them through things like a relationship breakdown, addiction or financial difficulties.
An estimated 6,000 people are expected to receive support through all 15 hubs by 2020.