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Successful action to help rough sleepers in Fenland

Fenland District Council is making huge strides towards reaching the Government's zero rough sleepers target.

Homelessness 2

The council works closely with individuals to offer bespoke support to help them get off the streets.

Cllr Sam Hoy, the council's Cabinet member for Housing, said: "We make huge efforts to support people in the desperate situation of sleeping rough and are really proud of the outcomes we are achieving.

"These are highly vulnerable people who we help to change their, often complex, situation to allow them a more stable, brighter future personally where they can also make a valuable contribution to society."

From March 2022 to date, 54 people who were rough sleeping have been moved into accommodation. In 2021-2022, the figure was 49.

The most recent count of rough sleepers, in January 2023, showed there were eight people sleeping on the streets of Fenland. That's the lowest number in many months. That count was conducted under the obligations of Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) funding that the district council has secured from Government since 2018 to pay for the work it does with rough sleepers.

Action is being taken to support every individual who is still sleeping rough to help them to access housing, benefits, support and ultimately work either here, or, where appropriate in the case of some foreign nationals, back in their home countries.

Not all rough sleepers immediately want to or are able to take up support offered to them - perhaps due to mistrust or their own complicated backgrounds or problems.

Some find themselves unable to access benefits, support or work here due to their immigration status but with no means to pay for documentation or travel to get home.

The district council has made the case to secure additional Government support to help with these more complex cases and is now working alongside the Home Office to ensure people can either access support here or be returned home.

In the meantime, the council continues to do outreach support with regard to the welfare of rough sleepers when times are cold to offer a sanctuary for the night in accordance with the Severe Weather Emergency provision regulations.

Cllr Hoy said: "Individuals end up on the street for widely different reasons and it's usual for that journey to have been extremely challenging and uncomfortable.

"In the case of foreign nationals there may be issues of modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

"Some of those people then fall through the support net, unable to access help to get home and, due to their immigration status, unable to create a life for themselves here.

"We're determined that no-one in Fenland should be left in a state of limbo and we work relentlessly to ensure people aren't left on the streets."

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities' 'Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2022' report showed 14 people were sleeping rough in Fenland on the night of the official count in Autumn last year.

Fenland District Council bid for and secured £1.18 million from the Government's Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) to fund rough sleeping reduction work between April last year and March 2025.

The work is complex and varied, often involving bespoke methods tailored to individuals and partnership working with many other organisations including the YMCA, Ferry Project and Change, Grow, Live charities.

Fenland District Council also works to support people facing other forms of homelessness where they do not have permanent or suitable accommodation.

March 2023

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