Wokingham Borough Council, working together with its wholly-owned registered provider of housing, Loddon Homes, has been successful in securing additional funding to bring warmth, shelter and a settled roof over the heads of those who are forced to sleep rough or are homeless across our community.
The government, via its Next Steps Accommodation Programme, has given the borough council and Loddon Homes more than £1million in grants to continue its work to tackle and prevent homelessness by helping rough sleepers into accommodation as well as providing them with rapid and tailored support.
As part of the overall package of grants, the council has received £160,000, over three years, for a pilot Housing First scheme. This scheme will be delivered in partnership with Loddon Homes and Two Saints, who will provide specialist support to help rough sleepers get the help they need with the aim of ending their homelessness for good.
Some £204,000 has also been awarded for immediate support and this will be used to provide temporary accommodation to those most in need.
And £675,000 has been awarded and will be used to house rough sleepers with the aim of preventing them from returning to the streets. This money will allow the council to purchase five one-bedroom self-contained homes.
The council has also appointed a Rough Sleeper Coordinator to work with our partners and the voluntary sector to develop housing pathways for rough sleepers in the borough.
Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for housing and finance, said: “This funding is vital to help us tackle homelessness and prevent people from returning to the streets. The impact of COVID-19 is huge on our economy, both locally and nationally, which means that more people will need our help.
“Being able to purchase additional homes will help ensure those sleeping rough can continue to have safe accommodation, care and support available to them. Homelessness can be devastating for individuals and families, and have long term consequences for those affected. That’s why tackling homelessness and reducing rough sleeping are key concerns for the council.”
UllaKarin Clark, chair of Loddon Homes Board, said: “Loddon Homes is delighted to take its first steps into homelessness prevention, as we work to secure these five properties across the borough that will enable individuals to access housing and support as they transition to their new living environment. We look forward to work with our partners at Two Saints and Wokingham Borough Council as we deliver essential housing for these borough’s residents.”
Charlotte Buckingham, Director of Client Services at Two Saints said “Two Saints are pleased to be working in partnership with Loddon Homes and Wokingham Borough Council to deliver housing first services in Wokingham. We already have a lot of housing first experience and are confident that together we’ll make a huge difference to the lives of people who are homeless by providing the safety and security of a home with the intensive support they need”.
Last year, the borough council adopted a strategy to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. The strategy has four key priorities: early intervention and prevention; working towards ending rough sleeping and tackling hidden homelessness (people who become homeless but are staying with friends or family); building more affordable homes; and supporting our vulnerable residents.
To contact the council for help on homelessness, phone (0118) 974 6000 during office hours or 01344 786 543 after hours, via email at email@example.com or by visiting the council offices at Shute End, Wokingham.
If you are aware of someone sleeping rough in the borough, let the council know by sending an alert to StreetLink at www.streetlink.org.uk. The details you provide will be sent to the council, who will use the information to find the individual, offer them support, and explore ways to find them accommodation.