A JOINED-UP approach is key in tackling homelessness in Warwick district.
That was the clear message when local politicians and around 20 support organisations met at a summit to discuss the increase in homelessness in the district and how to deal with the problem.
Susan Rutherford and Jazz Singh, directors of LWS Night Shelter, said “There is a need for a collaborative system that addresses the individual as a whole, taking into account not just their housing needs, but complex issues such as mental and physical health, substance abuse, repeat offending and unemployment.
“It is a major challenge to address all of these issues, but we are very keen to be part of the solution and welcome the opportunity to discuss this openly with multiple local agencies.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who organised the summit, agreed.
He said: “It is important to work together to address the causes and symptoms of homelessness by providing bespoke and holistic treatment services, as well as fulfilling our duty to provide social, council and affordable housing.
“Homelessness locally has doubled since 2015, and Warwick district is now the worst in the West Midlands for rough sleeping. We can and should be more ambitious in trying to end homelessness all together ahead of the national target of 2027.
“Many organisations spoke of the impact of budget cuts on the services they provided, and delivered stark reminders of how rough sleeping has increased since 2010. This demonstrates how vital it is we take concrete and positive action now, and I look forward to working with homelessness charities and local authorities in future to end homelessness and rough sleeping.”
District council housing spokesman Peter Phillips echoed the call for immediate action.
He added, “There is an urgent need to tackle the rising problem of homelessness and rough sleeping in our district and to be able to offer practical support to the voluntary sector in the amazing job they do in helping the most vulnerable people in our community.
“I very much hope our plans to secure a permanent home for the LWS Night Shelter and the purchase of a former hostel in Warwick to provide supported accommodation for the homeless will be a first step. These schemes and others like it will give more opportunities for this vulnerable group of people to engage with professional agencies and accept support to address the complex issues they are facing.”
Homeless support organisation P3 regularly go out onto the streets to look for and work with rough sleepers – and have recently recruited a dedicated outreach worker who will be permanently based in Leamington.
P3 spokeswoman Esther Barrett said: “The demands placed upon our Street Outreach service in terms of the number of people we are finding sleeping on streets of Warwickshire, is greater than ever. To have the funding and opportunity to expand the team and provide a dedicated outreach worker to support people sleeping on the streets in Leamington, is something that we are incredibly grateful for.”
“P3’s Street Outreach workers work hard to break down barriers and build relationships with people and our hope is that this new role will enable us to offer direct support to even more people who find themselves vulnerable and alone, sleeping on the streets.
“By working in partnership with aligned organisations we’re able to help people to access the support they need and to ensure we offer a route away from homelessness that will bring about lasting change.”
District health and social care spokesman Coun Les Cabourn spoke of the wider health, care and support needs of the homeless.
He said: “Warwickshire County Council has recently pledged an investment of £300,000 over two years to support homelessness, in particular, rough sleepers who may also have mental health issues and/or drugs and alcohol dependencies. “We will be working collaboratively with partners to deliver a programme of work to help address this challenge. Delivering this in partnership is key to finding an effective solution.”
* PS3 would welcome the help of the public in alerting them to anyone seen rough sleeping. The organisation can be contacted 24/7 on freephone 0808 164 6220 or via the Street Link mobile app.