Thanet council and RISE team help rough sleepers off the street during Covid pandemic

33 rough sleepers have been found accommodation during the coronavirus 'shutdown' Photo Carl Hudson

Thirty-three people who had been sleeping rough on Thanet streets have been found accommodation during the coronavirus lockdown period, an investigation by The Isle of Thanet News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

Thanet council’s RISE team (Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment) is still scouring the streets daily to offer help to those who need it and leaving calling cards at spots where no one is there but there is evidence of  rough sleeping.

Six people have been offered accommodation but declined, so remain on the street.

Thanet council, which received  £12,750 from a government pot of £3.2 million aimed at helping local authorities get people off the streets, is paying £57.28 per person, per night for accommodation with an enhanced management service.

A 12 week contract is currently running although Thanet council is not disclosing the location due to the vulnerability of those being housed and to prevent walk-ins.

Rise team on the streets earlier this year

RISE is working with all those placed and has been carrying out virtual support meetings. Three people have been moved from temporary to permanent accommodation during the pandemic lockdown.

Unfortunately another three have had to leave accommodation after breaching behaviour and substance abuse rules.

None of those who have been helped by RISE have been covid positive.

A specialist taskforce has also been created by the government to work with councils across the country on plans to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over – ensuring as few people as possible return to life on the streets.

Spearheaded by Dame Louise Casey, the taskforce also aims to ensure rough sleepers now in accommodation continue to receive the physical and mental health support they need over the coming weeks while they self-isolate from the virus.

More than 90% of rough sleepers known to councils at the beginning of the crisis have now been offered accommodation where they can remain safe during the crisis.

Thanet Rise team

The Rise team has been at the forefront of offering a wide range of services since it was officially launched on October 10, 2018 – World  Homelessness Day.

It is spearheaded by Thanet District Council with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, the Forward Trust addiction support service, Thanet Winter Shelter, Salvation Army, Serveco, Paramount Independent Property Services and Citizens Advice Thanet.

Rise knits together all the services people might need, from alcohol, addiction and mental health support to advice on benefits, assistance getting a GP or a bank account and a pathway for getting into, and staying in, accommodation.

Since 2018 the team has run the annual Thanet Winter Shelter, led by Danilo Luongo, – from November to March – providing food, beds and services during that time period at churches across the isle,

Since it began, the project has supported more than 89 people into substantive accommodation, helped over 231 into emergency accommodation and has an 86 per cent tenancy sustainment success rate.

Cllr Whitehead and Danilo Luongo

Thanet council deputy leader Helen Whitehead said: “We know that people who are rough sleeping or living in temporary accommodation are more likely to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The council’s response to this crisis has been effective and swift. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our staff and partners and the ongoing support of MHCLG, we have supported 33 people who were on the streets, into accommodation. Securing a new temporary supplier helped to ensure that this was possible.

“But this is just the start of the journey. We are working with every single individual to help develop a longer-term plan of support and this is something we have experience in delivering. Projects like the Thanet Winter Shelter demonstrate that helping someone who is rough sleeping is often more than just finding physical accommodation. Whether that’s providing food and clothing, supporting emotional and mental wellbeing or physical health, or even practical skills around budgeting or applications.

“Through its collaborative way of working, RISE is doing all it can to help reduce and prevent homelessness in Thanet. I’m proud of the exceptional work of the team and hope we will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of those who most need our support at this time.”

Contact Rise on 01843 577277. Emergency or out of hours: 01843 577000.

Drop-ins: Wednesday 9.30am-noon, Margate Gateway; Tuesday 2pm- 4pm, GAP Baptist Church, Broadstairs.

Email roughsleeping@thanet.gov.uk.

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