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Folkestone and Hythe Homelessness Briefing: November 2020

Mummy bag / sleeping bag (Smack, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)Good to see a briefing from Folkestone and Hythe District Council on their work on tackling homelessness, and specifically housing the homeless, over the coming months.

The Winter Shelter will be in place - although it will be delivering help through bed and breakfast spaces rather than the "rotating shelter" used in past years. The Council are committed to continue to work with partners the Rainbow Centre, Porchlight, and Serveco to identify and assist people who are rough sleeping or who are at risk of doing so.

It has also been confirmed that for those that Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) will be triggered when the night time temperature is predicted to be zero degrees celsius or below throughout the full length of a single night (it has previously been more than one night) - or there are extenuating circumstances accompanying the predicted zero degrees celsius temperature. When the SWEP is triggered, the Council will provide emergency accommodation for any person sleeping rough in the district.

There is more on SWEP at https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/housing/sleeping-rough-in-winter

Back to the briefing, a grant application to Government for "Next Steps Accomodation" alongside Dover District Council has been successful, with nearly £800,000 funding secured to support rough sleepers into accomodation.

"The government has confirmed recently that the council will receive additional funding to assist people who are rough sleeping or currently accommodated by the council.

"The funding breaks down as follows:

  • £520k to assist with the purchase of accommodation to assist rough sleepers with complex support needs.
  • £198k to provide high level support to people accommodated by both councils.
  • £53K to support the delivery of a Winter Shelter service, to be delivered by the Rainbow Centre - the service is to be delivered through bed and breakfast accommodation due to current COVID-19 guidance.
  • £25K to assist the council with some of the costs of placing rough sleepers in accommodation during the COVID-19 lockdown."

No-one should have to sleep rough. I was really pleased that that commitment was included in the Homelessness Prevention Strategy currently being consulted on.

It's not easy. Some rough sleepers actively avoid and refuse Council offers of housing support. Others have had problems, and caused problems for others, when found accommodation. That's why support and assitance is so important. It's not JUST about the beds (although they are critical), it's also about the additional support that is offered, and also crucially the support of the great organisations in our town (like Action on Homelessness in Folkestone, Pam Jones / Shirley Eade / Salvation Army and of course the Folkestone Rainbow Centre) that provide more than just food and supplies, but company, friendship, and a feeling of worth where sometimes that was fading.

Read the full briefing.