Council secures funding to help the Island’s rough sleepers

A vital shelter providing rough sleepers with a warm, safe place to sleep is not only being extended for a further 12 months — its services are being expanded.

The Isle of Wight Council has been successful in securing £288,700 from the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative to fund a range of measures to help the Island’s rough sleepers find accommodation and support.

Around £50,000 will be used to transform the current winter night shelter in Newport into an intensive assessment hub, providing 15 emergency beds for people who find themselves without a roof over their head.

The grant will also enable the council to expand its ‘Housing First’ project with homeless charity Two Saints, and fund an additional ‘Health and Criminal Justice Navigator’ to work alongside health and criminal justice services on the Island to reduce homelessness.

Jamie Brenchley, the council’s service manager for housing needs and homelessness, said: “I am really pleased that for the second year running we have been successful in securing extra government funding to support us to achieve our aspirations to end the need to sleep rough on the Island.

“We have made tremendous progress over the last 12 months, reducing rough sleeping on the Island by 79 per cent.

“This would not have been achieved without the collaboration and support from our partners. Homelessness is ‘everyone’s business’ and we are now starting to see the impact of services across the system coming together around individuals to help make change possible.

“There is still a long way to go, but this additional funding combined with the expertise we have available across our homelessness services is starting to help us achieve move towards our vision that everyone living on the Island has a place they can call home.”

Since opening last November, the winter night shelter at the former Barton Primary School site has supported 34 rough sleepers get off the streets — of those, 14 have been assisted into sustainable, long-term accommodation.

The shelter was due to close in March but, thanks to this week’s funding announcement, will remain open for a further 12 months with enhanced services including a daytime offer.

The funding will also mean an expansion of the Housing First project, launched on the Island last year, which uses a property as a starting point, rather than the end goal.

So far it has proved to be a vital tool providing hope for a number of entrenched rough sleepers on the Island who are unable to access traditional homeless services due to their complex needs.

Around £40,000 will boost the number of units of accommodation available to the project from three to 12.

Councillor Clare Mosdell, Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and housing needs, said: “It’s great news the government is supporting our projects to tackle the issue of rough sleeping on the Isle of Wight.

“We will now use this money to help some of the Island’s most vulnerable people who find themselves without a home for a range of reasons.

“Importantly, these extra funds allow us to extend the level of support to our homeless residents via more assertive and comprehensive outreach services.”

Speaking on the homeless shelter, local member Councillor Geoff Brodie said: “Neighbours to the former Barton school site and other local residents have been very supportive of the shelter since it opened.

“They will be pleased at this continuation, particularly as it keeps the site in use without any significant changes.”