Preston wins Government grant for almost £1m to continue project to get rough sleepers into homes
The city has won a Government grant for almost £1m to continue a project to get roofs over the heads of people sleeping rough on the streets of Preston.
And the £901,528 will also see three new strands introduced to the already up and running Rough Sleeper’s Initiative (RSI) - specifically helping homeless women, people discharged from hospital or prison who are vulnerable to becoming homeless and those on the streets struggling with mental health issues.
Councillor Nweeda Khan, cabinet member for Communities and Social Justice at Preston City Council (PCC), said: “Homelessness is on the rise throughout the country and this new funding will allow us to continue providing vital services to rough sleepers in Preston.
“People may find themselves homeless for any number of reasons and these services are a lifeline to help people get back on their feet and move forward in their lives.
“This funding will also allow us to expand the services we provide to support more people and tackle the causes of homelessness.”
The grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will ensure a project funding a Somewhere Safe to Stay hub at homeless charity the Foxton Centre, open 24/7, continues for the next year.
It will also be shared with Community Gateway Association (CGA), a social housing group, which is currently also supplying 40 properties for the project.
In a new element to the initiative in Preston part of the funding will go towards a post at the Foxton Centre in order, specifically, to help homeless women.
It will mean a new dedicated full-time mental health support team will be launched at the 24/7 Foxton Centre safe hub.
And a programme to catch people discharged from prison and hospital will be set up for those who might otherwise fall through the nets and end up on the streets.
In an administrative procedure councillors at PCC unanimously voted to funnel the money through to CGA and The Foxton Centre yesterday.
Backing the move coun John Potter, Liberal Democrats group leader, said: “If we want to tackle homelessness why don’t we tackle some of the stigma around it as well.”
But coun Martyn Rawlinson, a Labour politician, said: “This seems to be the second or third amount of money that the Government has thrown at us.
“Wouldn’t it be better to stop making people homeless? The impact that is on public services is huge.
“This doesn’t feel like the answer to me. I guess it’s good news but is it really the answer?”
Welcoming the funding, which will continue the project for 20/21, Jeff Marsh, chief executive of The Foxton Centre, said: “We are starting to make a real difference to the lives of rough sleepers in the city, and this money will allow us to continue our successful work for another year.
“Last month alone we provided temporary accommodation for 22 people in the hub and worked with 50 rough sleepers through our outreach service.”
But he added: “While this funding is vitally important we still rely on generous donations from people in the city who continue to provide homeless people with the opportunity to improve their lives.”
Documents outlining the background to the scheme which came before members of the city authority on Thursday state: “The Foxton Centre was successfully refurbished and is now able to open 24/7 and sleep up to eight people on any night.
“Since 2017, and through the RSI funding there is now an enhanced team of outreach workers developing an in-depth knowledge of the people who are sleeping rough in Preston.
“This funding has also allowed for more access into accommodation and more support workers to assist people to adjust to living inside and accessing the correct service to help them cope with their multiple complex needs.
“Community Gateway Association is supplying 40 social houses.”
Louise Mattinson, CGA executive director of customers and communities, said she was delighted that the bid was successful. She continued: “We are looking forward to working with our partners to ensure that these vital services can be continued and built upon over the coming year.
“CGA are committed to working with our local authority to help tackle homelessness in our City, and this innovative, flagship scheme has already helped so many of the most vulnerable people in our community.
“The extension provides the opportunity to help even more and bring additional benefits to the wider community.”