West Suffolk approves plan to tackle rise in rough sleeping and homelessness
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Councils in West Suffolk have vowed to combat homelessness as a new five-year plan has been agreed.
The 2018-23 homelessness strategy had been approved by both St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath scrutiny committees, and last week got the go ahead by the joint cabinet.
Data for the area suggested there were 29 rough sleepers in the west of the county, most of whom were on the streets in Bury St Edmunds.
The accompanying report warned that the number of people declaring themselves homeless was above national averages, and was increasing at a greater rate than elsewhere.
Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk councils’ cabinet member for housing said: “The homelessness reduction strategy sets out how we will continue to work towards reducing homelessness. We will do this by continuing our work in prevention and support people to stay in their homes or to find more suitable homes.
“The Homelessness Reduction Act reinforces the role that partners in health and other public services have to play particularly in reporting concerns onto the council.
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“Our strategy also sets out greater emphasis on working with people who are rough sleepers, not just by finding them accommodation, but also by supporting them to address the fundamental issues around addiction or their mental health that may otherwise cause them to end up back living on the streets.”
Among the measures detailed in the plan are recruiting more outreach workers, making self-help guides more readily available, and agreeing personal housing plans for those threatened with homelessness.
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The councils hope to identify those at risk sooner, which will help reduce the dependency on emergency accommodation, and help educate the public on some of the concerns.
Key organisations will be briefed on how best to signpost people to access help.
Ms Mildmay-White added: “If we are to succeed in reducing homelessness, then as agencies we will need to work even more closely than we have ever done before.
“That is why we have forged strong bonds with the public, private and voluntary sector agencies to not only help people find a home but to give them any support that they may need to move on with their lives and in so doing, prevent homelessness.”