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New strategy to tackle plight of the homeless
4:40pm Saturday 15th September 2012 in News
A NEW five-year plan is being launched to help reduce homelessness across Worcestershire.
The scheme includes giving rough sleepers better access to mental health services, offering advice on how to handle money and a new marketing strategy to publicise the problem.
Worcester City Council has agreed to take the lead on the strategy, which lasts until 2017 and aims to tackle homelessness head-on.
Parts of the plan will be funded by a £254,000 one-off Government grant, while councils across Worcestershire and the NHS will be asked to co-ordinate their resources to support the scheme.
The city council currently receives £164,000 a year from the Government for homelessness services, which will also form part of the resources. One key part of the strategy is for all of Worcestershire’s councils to improve online help for people at risk of sleeping rough.
Staff who work for hostels and go out at night looking for homeless people will also get training in mental health issues so they can help more people on the streets.
A homelessness forum will also be created, bringing together all the councils and health service chiefs across the county. It will meet regularly to ensure the plan is working.
More regular counts of the number of rough sleepers across Worcestershire is also being planned.
The strategy was discussed during a meeting of the city council’s cabinet.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, the deputy leader, said: “It’s a really important document – homelessness has been on the rise in recent years and it’s important that we tackle it.”
Councillor Simon Geraghty, the council’s leader, said: “It’s a mark of confidence in this authority that our partners across Worces-tershire believe that we can lead this project. What we want to see now is real, practical delivery of services on the ground.”
Part of the strategy includes a county-wide publicity campaign, modelled on a project called Killing with Kindness in Thames Valley, which aims to reduce the number of beggars on the streets.
There are believed to be at least 40 people sleeping rough in the county, but the number fluctuates greatly throughout the year.
As your Worcester News first revealed last month, the city council is also exploring opening up a new hub where rough sleepers can get practical help and advice.