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    Rough sleeper initiative launched on World Homeless Day

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    News release: 08 October 2019

    A major initiative to help rough sleepers in St Albans District take a new direction in life is to be launched on World Homeless Day.

    World Homeless Day logo
    Housing First is an interventionist approach to rough sleeping that recognises that a home is fundamental to a person's life and wellbeing.

    The programme will be run by Hightown Housing Association on behalf of St Albans City and District Council (SADC) and Dacorum Borough Council.

    It is financed by a £100,000 grant obtained earlier this year by the Councils from a Government fund to help rough sleepers.

    The money will be used to support eight to twelve rough sleepers from the District and Dacorum and give them a fresh start.

    Two workers have been recruited as part of the 12-month pilot scheme to engage rough sleepers on the streets.

    Staff and volunteers at the Open Door homeless shelter in St Albans will help them identify their goals, improve their wellbeing and integrate into the local community.

    As a first step, they will be allocated a permanent home of their own through the Councils or Hightown.

    The project will launch on Thursday 10 October, World Homeless Day, which draws attention to the plight of homeless people throughout the world.

    Councillor Jacqui Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Protection and Inclusion for SADC, said: “The overarching aim of Housing First is to give rough sleepers a fresh start in life.

    “They often have difficult backgrounds, addiction problems and complex needs and this scheme recognises the support needed as well as a place to call home.

    “It offers rough sleepers intensive help to recover from any problems they have, to enhance their skills and take on the responsibility of a housing tenancy. It is an opportunity for them to make a positive, long-term change and move forward with their lives.

    “We will work closely with Hightown, which is leading the project, and Dacorum Borough Council on this initiative in the months ahead to make sure it is a success. 

    “It is fitting that it is being launched on World Homeless Day which is all about highlighting these issues and taking action to make a difference to the local community.”

    SADC also runs the St Albans Rough Sleepers Steering Group with charities, faith groups and other organisations.

    It will meet shortly to discuss the provision of extra beds at rough sleeper shelters during the cold winter months. 

    To mark World Homeless Day, Open Door is releasing a video to raise awareness of their work and encourage residents to volunteer or make a donation.

    The hostel, on Bricket Road, offers homeless people a lunchtime drop-in, laundry facilities, support with CV writing and job applications, guidance with housing enquiries, mental health counselling and access to a community nurse.

    Its main aim is to help vulnerable people move on in their lives and the video can be seen here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCFDMrzhNKg.

    Last year, the SADC carried out an annual count of rough sleepers in the District on one night and estimated 11 people were sleeping rough.

    It is required to obtain this figure every year and submit it to the Government. Figures for previous years were: 2017 – 5; 2016 – 13; 2015 – 19; and 2014 – 11. 

    Cllr Taylor said: “The figure we obtained for rough sleepers is only an estimate and I believe the true, current figure is almost certainly higher.”

    Councillor contact:
    Councillor Jacqui Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion and Protection: cllr.j.taylor@stalbans.gov.uk, 07971 906343.

    Media contact:
    John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council: 01727-296130; john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk.