Number of rough sleepers in West Suffolk has significantly reduced after input from support team
A support team set up three months ago to help people off the streets and into accommodation has already reduced the number of rough sleepers in West Suffolk by more than a third.
The team, made up of five rough sleeper support workers including experts in addiction and mental health support, was created in September after successful bids by West Suffolk councils for Government funds.
Since then, the team has reduced the number of rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds from 25 to 20 and in West Suffolk overall from 36 to 22.
It has also helped rough sleepers get off the streets on 31 occasions and prevented people from returning to rough sleeping on 18 occasions.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing, said: “Helping people off of the streets is not as simple as providing them accommodation and giving them a key.
“Many of our rough sleepers need support for addiction and/or mental health issues if they are to maintain a roof over their head and work toward a more permanent form of accommodation.
“Over the past year the Council has invested in all-year round accommodation to help rough sleepers off of the streets. Crucially with that accommodation, comes support staff to help the individuals with whatever issues they face to try to prevent them from returning to the streets.
“We have support and accommodation available which means that we are unlikely to need a winter night shelter. This is part of our continued focus on helping rough sleepers rebuilding their lives. Of course there is still a long way to go and we continue to talk to people who are rough sleeping to try to get them to accept the support and help that they need for life off the streets.”
West Suffolk Councils are also among a number of partners which have backed the new Looking for Change campaign which was launched in October by the Bury Drop In, which is run by volunteers to provide hot meals and support at Trinity Methodist Church on Tuesdays and Fridays.
It encourages people to donate to the homeless via text or online rather than giving cash which can be spent on alcohol and drugs and prevent people being placed in accommodation.
Any money donated through the scheme will be used to help individuals get the support they need to find permanent accommodation and get off the streets for good.
To donate, text WROO36 £(Amount) to 70070 or visit www.justgiving.com/burydropin