New partnership to help homeless into long-term sustainable accommodation
Published: Thursday, 19th December 2019
John West House has reopened and will provide a comprehensive support service that helps vulnerable people sleeping rough into long-term, sustainable accommodation.
The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has partnered with a community interest company (CIC) - Browns Community Services CIC - to provide a Rough Sleeper Pathway, which incorporates a three stage accommodation programme.
The new three stage accommodation programme, which incorporates the Royal Borough’s severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) and cold weather provision, will see all those who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping started on the programme:
Stage one (inc SWEP) - will see those identified as rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping jointly assessed by the housing options team and the council’s rough sleeper initiative outreach team and offered stage 1 accommodation.
Stage two – will see those assessed and ready to move on from stage 1 accommodation offered stage 2 accommodation that includes intensive support provided by Brown Community Services CIC (BCS). Browns Community Services specialise in providing support to those who traditionally do not engage well with support services. Those on stage two of the programme will be given resettlement support including support with health, finances, employment and general life skills. Stage two support will be provided for a minimum of 12 weeks and for up to two years, depending on the individual needs of the service user.
Stage three – when the service user is ready for independent accommodation they are then supported into private rented sector or social housing accommodation with ongoing support for up to six months from the council’s rough sleeper initiative outreach team.
Councillor Ross McWilliams, Lead Member for Housing, Communications and Youth Engagement, said: “It’s vital that those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are given the necessary support to access long-term, affordable and sustainable accommodation, which is why we are putting in place a far more comprehensive approach than we have ever taken before. This is a sea change moment for the borough in the support we provide our vulnerable people.
"Too often in the past vulnerable people were not given the adequate support to put their lives back on track and were without the individual, bespoke support packages. This new approach will bring together all of our support services under one roof and provide comprehensive support to help people get their lives back on track.
"The three-stage accommodation programme, in partnership with Browns Community Services CIC, will give service users the skills and support they need to successfully make that move. For too long those with complex needs have not had the wrap-around care they need and this often results in a cycle of homelessness and rehousing.
"I am proud we have taken the compassionate decision to start housing people outside of SWEP so we don’t focus on when the temperature has fallen below the legal limit, or not.”
Browns Community Services CIC is a not for profit organisation that aims to break trans-generational cycles and transform the lives and wellbeing of socially excluded, disadvantaged and vulnerable people with complex and multiple needs.
They will provide service users with a wealth of support including support accessing GPs, mental health and wellbeing support, finance and budgeting support and general life skills.
Angeline Gore, Founder and CEO of Browns Community Services CIC, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Royal Borough on this progressive and holistic housing support programme.
“By providing vulnerable service users with the skills and support they need we hope to get them into long-term, sustainable accommodation and break the cycle of homelessness and rehousing we can often see.
“Our programme gives service users not only accommodation but wrap-around support including vital life skills to help them resettle into a normal life.”
John West House will be open from 7pm each evening, until 12pm the following day.
The three-stage programme will be supported by an alternative giving scheme which will be launched in the New Year.
At the end of November, the council took the decision to start housing people regardless of whether or not SWEP was triggered. We have been successful in housing vulnerable residents since then, placing them in accommodation for the cold weather. This is not an optimal solution as it does not provide the wrap around support that the new shelter at John West House or the proposed new shelter in Eton will provide. The council has taken the caring and compassionate approach to help these people off the streets until the shelters are up and running.
Any organisation that is working with people who are or are facing sleeping rough should contact [email protected] for further information.
Anyone at risk of sleeping rough on the streets should go to the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead offices in the Town Hall, St Ives Road, Maidenhead during office hours (Monday – Friday) 9am – 5pm for advice and support or call the housing duty team on 01628 683803.
Anyone who becomes homeless when the offices are closed should contact the council's Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543.
If you see a rough sleeper you can also call 0300 500 0914 or visit Streetlink giving the details of the rough sleeper and they will notify the relevant local authority.