Telford rough sleepers helped into accommodation at rate of nearly one a day during pandemic

Rough sleepers in Telford have been helped into emergency accommodation at a rate of almost one a day throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and many of those have since been rehomed permanently, a report says.

Telford & Wrekin Council set up a Rough Sleeping Task Force, which includes charities, an NHS trust and the police, in March 2020 and, under its “Telford Housing First Programme”, the authority has bought 13 homes to serve as “move on” accommodation for those it helps.

Borough public health and housing chiefs write that Covid-19 poses significant risks for homeless people, who already have poorer health and trouble accessing help, and homelessness-threatened people.

The borough’s Health and Wellbeing Board will discuss their report when it meets on Thursday, June 17.

The report, from housing, employment and infrastructure director Katherine Kynaston and health, wellbeing and commissioning director Liz Noakes, adds that the council was awarded more than £1.3 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme late last year.

With match funding from the authority itself, the council has used this to develop its Telford Housing First Programme.

“An initial phase of 13 properties have been acquired to provide ‘move on’ accommodation with tailored wrap-around support for clients referred through the Task Force,” they write.

Committed

“Everyone In”, a national scheme that required local authorities to provide accommodation for homeless people and rough sleepers, was launched at the start of the pandemic.

“The council has since committed to ‘No Return to Rough Sleeping’,” Ms Kynaston and Ms Noakes add.

“The Rough Sleeping Task Force, established by the council in March 2020, meets daily and includes Telford & Wrekin Council’s housing and adult mental health teams, Maninplace, Kip@Maninplace, STAY, STaRS, the Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust and the police.”

Maninplace and STAY are charities supporting homeless and vulnerable people, while Kip@Maninplace is an appointment-based assistance service and STaRS supports people with drug or alcohol problems.

Ms Kynaston and Ms Noakes add: “Through the Task Force, to date, over 360 clients have been supported from sleeping rough in Telford and Wrekin through providing emergency accommodation. Over 320 clients have been re-housed into their own accommodation.”

Covid-19 vaccinations have been offered to those in emergency accommodation, and all clients are helped to register with a GP.

“People who are homeless have some of the worst health outcomes and are more likely to experience and die from preventable and treatable medical conditions and to have multiple and complex health needs,” they write.

“Many people who sleep rough experience a combination of physical and mental ill health and drug or alcohol dependency.”

Barriers to health services include “complex administration processes” and “previous negative experiences”, meaning “continuity of care is a challenge and health issues may not be picked up until they become acute”.

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