A new homeless support hub to help rough sleepers get off the streets has opened its doors in Fenland.
The hub has opened at Octavia View in Somers Road, Wisbech, PE13 2RA, to provide specialist support and rapid assessment for homeless people, and those at risk of homelessness, across the district.
The multi-agency facility is run by homeless charity the Ferry Project and has been made possible thanks to £131,125 of government funding secured by Fenland District Council.
Ferry already provides specialist homelessness support to those offered accommodation at the Clarkson House hostel or emergency Night Shelter, but the new hub will enable trained staff to provide the same support to anyone who needs it in Fenland.
It will include help with finding accommodation, accessing medical services, managing debts and benefits and support into employment and training, as well as help with food, washing facilities, clothing and toiletries.
The main game changer, and an integral part of the bid put together by council staff, was to recruit a mental health nurse. The nurse, who starts imminently, will be available to address complex needs, a service often lacking in homeless provision.
Cllr Samantha Hoy, Fenland District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Tackling homelessness is more than just offering a bed for the night. It’s about supporting people, understanding their circumstances and providing help so they can turn their lives around.
“The Ferry project will be working in the hub with our housing staff, the NHS and other services to ensure everyone in Fenland, whether they are already living on the streets or in danger of being made homeless, has access to professional guidance and help with everyday things such as food, clothing and washing.
“The funding we secured from the Government’s Rough Sleeper Initiative will enable the hub to run for an initial 12 month pilot, but we will need further commitment from the Government to run it beyond its first year and really make a difference.”
Keith Smith, founder and director of the Ferry Project, said: “It is another great service to help some of the most vulnerable people in Fenland off the streets and into their own home. It demonstrates once again the excellent partnership working between Fenland District Council and local charities.”
The hub is currently open 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, with plans to open seven days a week in the autumn.
In addition to securing the Rough Sleeper Initiative funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the council has successfully bid for two other homelessness grants from the MHCLG.
It has received £58,000 to prioritise homelessness prevention activity, carry out further homelessness activities and fund work to reduce or eliminate the use of emergency B&B accommodation, and a further £35,000 for a rough sleeper coordinator role for one year, to coordinate outcomes for rough sleepers and ensure services are joined up to maximise positive outcomes for vulnerable people.