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West Suffolk councils secure use of hostel and flats in Bury St Edmunds for homeless

West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds.
West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds.

Councils in West Suffolk have invested £45,000 to use a 12 bedroom hostel and flats to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.

The investment in the Bury St Edmunds building, owned by Home Group, is initially for one year and brings the number of temporary beds available in the town to just over 40 and 70 across West Suffolk.

It follows an increase in the number of homeless people and the opening of a winter night shelter at Northgate Lodge, in Bury, which closes at the end of this month.

New legislation which starts on April 3 requires councils to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness and expands their duty to help all homeless people, rather than being based on priority need and intentionality.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing at West Suffolk councils, said: “The new legislation is a positive move but it is not without its challenges.

“West Suffolk councils will be looking for more opportunities to boost the amount of temporary accommodation that it can access, while we’re also calling for private landlords to get in touch to discuss how the council can support them to provide accommodation for those who need it.”

The £45,000 will go toward the 24-hours-a-day cost of support staff to run the temporary accommodation.

The councils have also appointed two new outreach workers. One will specialise in drugs and alcohol support and the other will help those who are sleeping rough.

With the extra posts, there will be three outreach workers across West Suffolk to help prevent homelessness, support those sleeping rough and resolve the complex reasons behind their situation.

The councils, which ran the winter night shelter with Havebury Housing Partnership, are also looking at winter provision for 2018/19.

Karen Mayhew, chief executive of Havebury, thanked residents for their donations to the night shelter.

Cllr Midmay-White added: “Our aim has always been to support rough sleepers in getting off the street rather than helping them stay on them.

“Over the winter we were able to offer accommodation but unfortunately not all accepted – rough sleepers have a choice whether to accept the help offered or not, but we persevered throughout.”

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