Contracts Awarded for Reading’s New Homelessness Support Services

CONTRACTS have been awarded to organisations providing support services to homeless individuals and those at risk of becoming homeless in a new way.

The Council is introducing a new model for homelessness support services from September, focusing on providing immediate and emergency responses to rough sleepers and homeless people, providing housing and support to address the needs of single homeless people and preventing homelessness.

A full competitive tendering exercise was launched after the plans were approved by the Council in July 2017 and the contracts have now been awarded.

The Intensive and Engaging Support Service, which includes a central hub offering emergency assessment beds, 24/7 supported hostel accommodation and support services, has been awarded to The Salvation Army.

The Rough Sleeper Outreach Service focussed on supporting rough sleepers into accommodation will be 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, will both be delivered by Launchpad Reading.

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.

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

Shepton House, in South Street, which currently offers 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 the Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BHCA) property at Waylen Street. Options are also being explored for using the property in another way to support those in housing need.

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, Reading Borough Council learned last week that it had secured £316,000 additional funding from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to reduce the number of people sleeping on the street in Reading this winter.*

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

“I am pleased the remodelled Homelessness Support Services will soon be implemented following the award of contracts to the successful bidders.

“Reading invests a considerable sum in providing support to homeless people and will continue to work closely with our valued voluntary sector partners.

“I am confident this new way of working will provide a comprehensive and effective support service for rough sleepers, people who are homeless and at risk of becoming homeless in Reading.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

*A separate press release (Council Secures £316,000 Extra Cash to Support Rough Sleepers in Reading) regarding the additional funding secured from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be available on the Council’s news website:  http://news.reading.gov.uk/

David Millward

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