The Next Steps Accommodation Programme aims to assist former rough sleepers and those brought into emergency accommodation in response to Covid19 to move into settled accommodation. As the pandemic remains a risk, it is essential that people, particularly those who are at increased risk of severe illness, are kept safe and do not return to sleeping rough.
MBC was invited by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to engage with the next stage of its Covid19 Rough Sleeping response after around 15,000 vulnerable people were housed across the country in hotels and other forms of emergency accommodation, since the start of the pandemic.
The Council’s Outreach Team supports rough sleepers, and those at risk, and tries to ensure that as few individuals as possible return to the streets following an initial period of accommodation.
John Littlemore, MBC Head of Housing and Community Services said:
“We are delighted to have been awarded this funding and to be part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.
“This year has seen just how important it is for us to support our communities, particularly those who may have complex issues and need different services to help them lead healthier, more productive lives.
“The MBC Outreach Team supports those in need to access benefits or employment, GP’s and healthcare, treatment and support for substance misuse and access to mental health services, this funding will help us continue and expand that work.”
The work of the Outreach Team was recognised by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping - Kelly Tolhurst MP, who highlighted Maidstone as one of three local authorities across the country who are at “the cornerstone of our work to tackle rough sleeping”. Since it was launched in 2018 team has reduced rough sleeping in Maidstone by over 90%. It continues to help many who need support to live in their own accommodation an approach that has seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour and other associated issues and been recognised by partner agencies, including the police.