Smoothing the way for Croydon’s rough sleepers

By - Thursday 2nd February, 2017

Good news for Croydon’s homeless, and the agencies that support them

Photo public domain.

Just before Christmas, Croydon was given the uplifting news that it would be a significant beneficiary of the government’s £50 million grant to tackle homelessness across the UK.

The prime minster made the announcement on 21st December as she unveiled the government’s plans for new homelessness prevention schemes, including targeted support for those at risk of sleeping rough.

Croydon will receive £1.4 million, made up of a Rough Sleeping Grant of £400,000 over the next three years, and Prevention Trailblazer funding of £1 million. Croydon is also part of a successful bid from the GLA that will see our town benefit from a share of up to £2 million in locally commissioned Social Impact Bonds. This money is designated specifically to help long-term rough sleepers with the most complex needs.

Funding grants to place a focus on better prevention

The funding will include targeted support for those at imminent risk of sleeping rough, or those new to the streets.

Funding grants to local authorities will place a focus on better prevention, so that more people receive help before they reach a crisis; increase early intervention to get rough sleepers off the streets quickly; and provide greater specialist support for entrenched rough sleepers.

The new programme builds on the government’s commitment to preventing homelessness, which includes:

  • increasing central funding to tackle homelessness over the next four years to £149 million
  • protecting homelessness prevention funding for local authorities at £315 million by 2019–2020
  • providing £100 million for at least 2,000 low-cost accommodation places for rough sleepers leaving hostel accommodation, and domestic abuse victims and their families moving on from refuges
  • supporting Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, which will provide vital support for many more people
  • whilst a number of organisations – many of which are made up of volunteers – have been trying for years to support those who find themselves homeless and living on the streets of Croydon, this money will be a real boost in tackling the problem, which has been stubbornly resistant for a long time.

People can lose their homes for all sorts of reasons, and working in the Croydon Churches Floating Shelter (CCFS) for many years has proved a real eye-opener to me personally in demonstrating that this really can happen to anyone.

Living on the streets is cold, unhealthy, distressing and dangerous, and it is so important that everyone gets a helping hand to assist them back into secure accommodation – or indeed is helped so they don’t lose their home in the first place.

One of the things that can be so important is showing that you care, that you will listen, not judge, and that you can offer some assistance in addressing the most immediate needs of the homeless. Building confidence is absolutely vital, because people without a home to call their own often feel at rock bottom and completely demoralised. This is where some more help will now be able to be offered, in giving people the skills and opportunities that can really help them build a more secure future for themselves.

Getting lives back on track as soon as possible

I am sure that this excellent news for Croydon will mean that the council, charities and volunteers will be able to work together even more closely, making more of a difference, and ensuring that everyone who needs a hand gets the help and assistance that they need to get their lives back on track as quickly as possible.

Indeed, the council has advised that its successful bid will include:

  • enhanced outreach to engage with new rough sleepers earlier
  • a year-round shelter for rough sleepers who are new to the street, with funded concierge service overnight and wraparound support from Gateway Enablement and Welfare services, CRISIS Skylight and the Turnaround Centre focusing on income maximisation, tenancy readiness and access to employment and training
  • an increase in capacity of budgets to support a move on to the private sector
  • understanding and analysis of the impacts of welfare reform, with a particular focus on benefit caps and universal credit. Assisting 400 customers in avoiding impacts and becoming homeless
  • gathering data and evidence on journeys on to the street to identify where earlier intervention would be most effective and to inform service redesign.

It has also been confirmed that the bid will be delivered in partnership with existing services, including faith- and volunteer-led services within Croydon.

I know that if either Nightwatch or the CCFS had to close due to a complete lack of demand, they would be absolutely delighted. This would surely be a most worthwhile goal.

Lynne Hale

Lynne Hale

Lynne has always lived in Croydon and worked locally as a healthcare professional for over twenty years before, having settled her three wonderful children into their Croydon schools, she moved into politics. First elected as a Sanderstead councillor in 1998, Lynne has held a number of roles in health scrutiny and more recently was the Croydon Conservative spokesman for Culture, where she opposed the complete closure of Fairfeld Halls. Lynne regularly commits time and support to a number of voluntary organisations, including Croydon Churches Floating Shelter and was appointed Croydon Conservatives Housing spokesman in May 2016.

More Posts