The Thanet Winter Shelter provided overnight accommodation and practical help to find a more permanent home to 57 people during its latest opening between November 2018 and the end of March.
The shelter is supported by a number of volunteers and seven local churches and has completed its third year. It provided a total of 1820 bed spaces for the duration of the 133 nights.
The scheme involves church halls opening their doors to those sleeping on the street to offer a bed, clothes and food. A key aim of the Shelter is to better equip guests to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation and to provide practical pathways for training and employment.
Some of those who stayed at the shelter are now working with the council’s RISE and Housing Options Team. Many have since been offered alternative accommodation as a result of engaging with the services available to them when staying at the shelter.
The Shelter is run with the help of the Salvation Army, Homeless Aspire and Thanet council.
RISE -Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment – has three outreach workers and a dedicated worker for mental health and another for drug and alcohol addiction.
The shelter is funded by TDC with £20,000 and a further £10,000 was also provided by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to ensure the services could be extended.
Bob Porter, Head of Housing at Thanet District Council said: “Providing the Shelter during the colder months is especially important as this is when rough sleepers’ health is most vulnerable. However, this is not sustainable all year round and shelter accommodation is not a long term housing solution.
“Encouragingly, we have been able to secure a number of funding bids in order to provide year round services to support rough sleepers in the district, which includes the multi-agency RISE team being funded again for 2019/20. In addition, Citizens Advice Thanet navigators are now offering valuable income/debt advice, and we have also recruited two more landlord liaison officers to source accommodation for single people.
“Combined with the ongoing support our team are able to provide, we are making significant steps towards tackling the challenges of homelessness in Thanet.”
Sleeping rough on the streets in Thanet
|Year||Number of persons confirmed as sleeping rough in Thanet (Thanet council data)|
For Thanet the number of people verified as sleeping rough fell by 50 per cent from 46 in 2017, to 23 in 2018.
The figures followed a count which took place between 4am and 7:30am on November 22.
The verified rough sleeper count only included people bedding down on the street (in parks, churchyards etc) on one given night.
People using the Thanet Winter Shelter were not included– that night there were 14 guests at the shelter.
The method used for last year’s rough sleeper count has been criticised as not showing the reality of street homelessness. Estimates are generally agreed by rough sleeper agencies, such as Porchlight as well as TDC, whereas the spot counts are just a snap shot of one night.
Thanet council said: “Ministry for Housing guidance dictates that where there is a significant change in the number, population or location of people sleeping rough in a local area, councils should consider conducting a street count.
“TDC historically conducted its annual rough sleeping figures via an estimate, but by October 2018, following funding from the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative, 34 people had been found accommodation, which constitutes a significant change. On this basis, TDC duly conducted a street count in November 2018.
“The council provided additional contextual information to the Government about the number of people that had been accommodated in temporary accommodation or who were staying at the Winter Shelter at the time of the count.”
Dying on our streets
Shockingly data released in February by the Office for National Statistics shows there have been 7 identified deaths of people who were sleeping rough in Thanet between 2013 and 2017. Estimates, meaning those who died on the street but may not have been registered as homeless, for the same period show eight deaths.
If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping you can notify streetlink at www.streetlink.org.uk
Call 24 hour free Porchlight phone helpline 0800 567 7699 or from a mobile on 0300 365 7699.
Wednesday 9.30am-12pm Margate Gateway
Tuesday 2pm-4pm GAP Baptist Church, Broadstairs