Cheshire East Council is stepping up its policy to tackle homelessness in the borough with the appointment of a rough sleeping coordinator and beds being made available in Macclesfield and Crewe to prevent people resorting to sleeping on the streets and in doorways.
Government funding, announced recently, will help to support the measures the council has in place to reduce the number of rough sleepers and prevent people becoming homeless.
The borough has a relatively low number of rough sleepers, compared with many other authorities, but the council is aware of an increase in rough sleeping and is committed to tackling the issue before winter.
The council is working with several community groups and organisations – including Crewe Town Council, the voluntary sector, charities and faith groups – to develop ways to reduce the problem and provide the right services for people sleeping on the streets.
Cheshire East is one of 83 councils who will share in a £30m pot of government cash to help boost the support offered to people sleeping rough or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The council will receive more than £250,000 as its share of the fund.
New measures to be introduced include:
• Outreach workers to seek out, assess and support rough sleepers, and signpost them to relevant support services;
• 39 beds to be made available through partner organisations; and
• The appointment of a rough sleeping co-ordinator to plan services, ensure a coherent first-stage approach and monitor the effectiveness of interventions and remove barriers.
Councillor Ainsley Arnold
Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “Thankfully, we have a low number of people sleeping rough in the borough – but one person sleeping on the streets is still one too many.
“Homelessness is an issue that we are determined to deal with in the most positive and sensitive way and the council is eager to tackle the harmful effects of homelessness, such as the impact on family life and children, the potential harm to an individual’s physical and mental health, their self-esteem, confidence and loss of employment.
“A number of factors can contribute to homelessness. However, we are pleased that the measures we have in place are leading to more cases of successful prevention, with a year-on-year rise in numbers of people avoiding homelessness.”
The council launched its homelessness strategy earlier this year, following a period of public consultation and detailed discussions with statutory bodies, the voluntary sector, charities and faith groups, as well as local businesses.
The strategy was introduced to coincide with the new Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into effect in April.
While the council’s homelessness team will attempt to assist anyone found to be sleeping rough, the authority has no powers to remove them but would encourage anyone who wishes to report a person sleeping rough to do so by calling 0300 123 5017.