New Homelessness Support Services Launched in Reading

A NEW way of delivering services to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless is launched in Reading on 1st September.

The new model for homelessness support services introduced by the Council focuses on providing immediate and emergency responses for rough sleepers and homeless people, providing housing and support to single homeless people and helping prevent homelessness.

The services will be provided by partners commissioned by the Council, including The Salvation Army, St Mungo’s and Launchpad Reading with the support of a range of local charities.

The new model for Homelessness Support Services features:

·        A central hub based in Willow House, central Reading, that brings together services for those who are homeless or rough sleeping, including emergency assessment beds, 24/7 supported hostel accommodation and support services

·        An outreach team focused on supporting rough sleepers into accommodation and reconnecting those without a local connection to their area of origin

·        A ‘No Second Night Out’ model to ensure anyone sleeping rough for the first time is prevented from sleeping out for a second night

·        Emergency beds for rough sleepers, regardless of local connection, during severe winter weather

·        Shared supported accommodation for those currently unable to manage independent living

·        Some permanent accommodation for people straight from the street – an unconditional offer of independent housing alongside intensive support for street homeless people with multiple and complex needs.

·        Floating support services to help people cope in their accommodation and prevent them from becoming homeless

·        Exploring new approaches to prevent people from sleeping rough – a ‘No First Night Out’ approach.

The Intensive and Engaging Support Service, which includes a central hub offering emergency assessment beds, 24/7 supported hostel accommodation and support services, is run by The Salvation Army.

The Rough Sleeper Outreach Service focussed on supporting rough sleepers into accommodation is provided by St. Mungo’s.

Floating Support Services, to prevent homelessness, and Working Towards Independence Services, providing shared supported accommodation for vulnerable single people and couples, are both delivered by Launchpad Reading.

As a result of the changes Hamble Court, in Southampton Street, no longer operates as a 24/7 supported accommodation unit but the landlord, Riverside, is exploring options for it to be used in other ways to help meet Reading’s housing needs.

Shepton House, in South Street, which previously offered lower need supported accommodation will be used to meet higher needs, as part of the Intensive and Engaging Support Service to be managed by The Salvation Army, following the loss of Hamble Court.

The number of lower level support bed spaces will be reduced, including the closure of property owned by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) and Reading Borough Council at Waylen Street where options for alternative uses to support those in housing need are being explored.

The new Homelessness Support Services reflect national guidance, innovation and best practice from other local authority models and are funded through an annual budget of £1.25m. In addition, the council funds supported housing provision for young people at the Reading YMCA and additionally funds women’s refuge spaces for those fleeing domestic abuse through Berkshire Women’s Aid.

The Council hosted a launch of the new homelessness support services model for interested professionals who support vulnerable and homeless people at the Civic Offices on Thursday 30th August.

Cllr John Ennis, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, said:

“Homelessness is a major issue in Reading and the South East and we need to have effective services in place to meet the needs of those affected.

“The new homelessness support services model follows the latest national guidance, innovation and best practice operated by other councils and continues Reading’s commitment to helping those in need.

“I am confident that, with the support of our providers and valued voluntary sector partners, we will provide a comprehensive and effective package of support to rough sleepers, homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless.”

Reading Borough Council also secured £316,000 additional funding from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government in June to help reduce rough sleeping in the town. This will fund initiatives in addition to the contracted homelessness support services.

Notes to Editors

More information about the £316,000 MHCLG grant can be found at: http://news.reading.gov.uk/rough-sleeper-funding/

David Millward

For media enquiries about this release email david.millward@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 4289