22nd Oct, 2019

Plans underway for centre providing accommodation to homeless in Stratford

A CENTRE to help rough sleepers and homeless people into accommodation looks set to be launched in Stratford.

The vacant Fred Winters store in Birmingham Road is hoped to become the home of a new Stratford Housing Plus Centre.

It will include a handful of units for ‘immediate’ accommodation and a number of ‘move on’ apartments to help people transition into permanent housing while having access to a range of services.

The hub, which will be known as the the Fred Winter Centre in honour of the family behind the long-running department store, will also help vulnerable people to manage their finances, provide health and social care, skills training and work experience.

The project, hoped to launch next summer, is based on Finland’s ‘housing first’ model which aims to give vulnerable people housing before addressing issues including job loss and substance abuse – traditionally problems which could prevent them securing accommodation.

It is a collaboration between local authorities, and a number of charities and organisations including housing support charity P3, mental health charity Springfield Mind, Job Centre Plus and Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

The organisations will provide support services at the centre – which will operate 24/7 and include meeting rooms and a community cafe.

Those in need will be referred there by the organisations supporting them.

Stratford Foodbank also plans to move to the building following increasing demand for the service which currently operates from a portacabin in Tesco car park.

Project coordinator Paul Spooner said: “I live in Stratford and I’m very aware of the council’s desire to help the homeless.

“I am interested in delivering projects which couldn’t otherwise be delivered. It’s designed to help people with complex needs and challenges with the right level and range of support to help them find their own way in life.

“Finland was the first country to deliver the ‘Housing First’ service to help their homeless so it’s a proven model. Now we can see if we can deliver it here to meet needs in Stratford by everybody contributing in a collaborative partnership. It also aims to reduce the over all costs of homelessness in a much more efficient way.”

Birmingham based housing association Spring Housing will be the lease-holder of the building and will develop and manage the accommodation side.

Chief executive Dominic Bradley said: “Tackling homelessness is more than just offering a bed for the night. It’s about supporting people, understanding their circumstances and providing help so they can turn their lives around. In the Stratford Housing Plus Centre project we will be working in the hub with our housing staff, and other services to ensure everyone in Stratford, whether they are already living on the streets or in danger of being made homeless, has access to professional guidance and help with everyday things such as food, clothing and washing. As well as focusing on creating social networks and employment, Spring has a proud history of investing to prevent homelessness and although we have a long way to go on this project, we are greatly encouraged by the wealth of talent and resource within the partnership.”

While cost estimations are still underway, Spring Housing and Stratford District Council will look to meet a significant share while it is hoped a grant will be secured from central government.

A public consultation on the project will take place at the town hall tomorrow (Friday) from 2.30 to 5.30pm.

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