DORSET Council has been awarded nearly £500,000 of government funding to help tackle rough sleeping in the county.
This grant of £472,470 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) follows a bid by Dorset Council’s Housing Team.
Dorset Council worked on the bid with The Lantern, Julian House, The Bus Shelter and Citizens Advice. The former Weymouth & Portland Borough Council also received funding in 2018.
The money will help continue the work that has been taking place in Weymouth & Portland to reduce rough sleeping. It also means there is the opportunity to extend this work across Dorset.
The impact of the project in Weymouth is reflected in the reduction of known rough sleepers from 18 in 2018 to six in 2019. However, despite an overall reduction in rough sleeping in Dorset from 35 in 2018 to 18 in 2019, other areas of Dorset have seen an increase.
In North Dorset numbers have increased from one to four, according to council figures.
The money will enable Julian House and The Lantern to work across Dorset, to help get people off the streets and into accommodation and consolidate their work in Weymouth.
The services work with rough sleepers as well as those at risk of rough sleeping and those leading street-based lifestyles which may involve begging and street-drinking.
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, portfolio holder for housing at Dorset Council said: “This is great news for Dorset. We’re committed to reducing the number of rough sleepers in our county and to provide support to rough sleepers who have been re-housed to help them remain in accommodation.
“The funding will continue our existing partnership work and provides an important opportunity to extend this work across the rural areas of Dorset.”
Helen Bedser, chief executive of Julian House, one of the key organisations which will be delivering homeless services, said: “Over the past two years, working in close co-operation with organisations like The Lantern Trust, we have been able to make some real progress around rough sleeper numbers and, more importantly create positive outcomes for some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“News of this increased funding is fantastic. Not only will it allow us to build on that work, but it will also broaden it out to address the less visible aspects of homelessness such as in rural communities.
“Long experience has shown that getting someone off the streets is just the start of their pathway away from homelessness. Tailored support when they move into accommodation helps to ensure that they don’t fail and finish up back in a very vulnerable dangerous existence.”
Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should report it via StreetLink at streetlink.org.uk