More support to help rough sleepers

A tent in Southgate, Chichester city centre
A tent in Southgate, Chichester city centre

A rough sleeper outreach worker to help homeless people across the Chichester district has been approved in a bid to improve a previously ‘fragmented’ service.

The current postholder was funded by a one-off Government grant and shared with Arun, but is set to leave by the end of January just six months in.

As a result Chichester District Council cabinet members committed to £40,000 worth of funding for a new homeless outreach worker to solely cover the Chichester district when they met on Tuesday January 9.

There are currently 18 known individuals sleeping rough in the district according to officers.

Jane Kilby, cabinet member for housing services, described how outreach services for the homeless had become ‘fragmented’.

While the overall number of rough sleepers has not risen over the last seven years their visibility has increased over the last five years, especially in Chichester city centre.

Meanwhile violence against and perpetrated by rough sleepers has also been on the rise.

Mrs Kilby said: “The reasons why people become homeless can be extremely complex, and quite often they require much more support than just a roof over their heads. In many cases, people are offered accommodation, only to turn it down. This is because they have other issues that need to be resolved and supported.”

She added: “Since 2016, Chichester District Council and Arun District Council have shared a homeless outreach worker who supports the homeless across both areas.

“This role has made significant strides in bringing all of the relevant agencies together to support those who are homeless and they have developed trusting relationships with their clients.

“Due to the success of this role, and the fact that we recognise that each area has different issues, we have both decided to invest in our own outreach worker.

“We are very lucky that we also have the support from Stonepillow, who are one of our key partners. We know that a lot of residents want to support the homeless. The best way to do this is by donating to Stonepillow, which plays such a crucial role locally in helping people to get back on their feet.”

The new post would allow the council to provide a more consistent service and allow the permanent new staff member to build trust and relationships to encourage individuals to engage with authorities.

The outreach worker will assess the individual needs of each case, come up with a personalised action plan, and tailor support with the agencies involved to help move clients into settled accommodation.

Rough sleepers would be supported to access treatment where required for physical and mental health issues, as well as for drug and alcohol dependency.

Referrals will be made through the council’s rough sleeper panel.

Tony Dignum, leader of the council, said they would start recruitment immediately.

He added: “It’s another sign that this council is concerned about looking after everybody. Everyone has their worth.”

For more information visit on Stonepillow visit their website.