EVIDENCE of rough sleepers has not been seen in Stratford district for a month.
So says Stratford District Council which carries out a weekly street count.
The council, along with organisations and charities tackling homelessness, has worked to eliminate rough sleeping across the district since 2017 – a time when its annual count reported 17 people sleeping on the streets.
Measures put in place by the council to tackle rough sleeping included the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme – organised at the start of the pandemic – which helped those withour a roof to connect with their home area, if safe to do so, or provided them with emergency accommodation.
It also included offers of tenancies with a support package and of housing association homes, and support for those already in emergency accommodation.
Outreach support charity P3 also played a part in helping rough sleepers in the town.
Nearly £500,000 in bids have been awarded to the council since 2019 to help people sleeping on the district’s streets.
The council has recently bid again for further funding and expects to find out whether it has been successful in April.
Any new Rough Sleeper Funds awarded will be available up to 2025.
The council says those seen begging, particularly on town streets, are unlikely to be homeless, with either their own tenancy or emergency accommodation in place.
The council and its partners is working to encourage those begging in the town centre to engage with available support.
The Fred Winter Centre also opened this year – providing a hub offering various support services as well as accommodation.
SDC homes and wellbeing spokeswoman Coun Jo Barker said: “For the district council to be able to report no rough sleepers is remarkable, and it is reflective of a considerable amount of positive work being done by agencies working in partnership.
“With the Fred Winter Centre now open, providing a hub for all relevant services, it is even easier for partners to work together and those who are homeless to access support.
“However, we are not complacent and recognise that we all need to continue to work to maintain what has been achieved so far. We also know that the next challenge is to support former rough sleepers who have been housed to sustain their tenancies in order to break the cycle of repeated homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Those concerned someone may be sleeping rough can report them via www.streetlink.org.uk.
Visit meaningfulchange.org.uk/stratford/donate to donate money to help those sleeping on the streets. There are also contactless donations points available at town centre venues including Roly’s Fudge, HR Café, Lush and Tesco Express.