Following the success of Warwick District Council and voluntary sector partners to secure accommodation for all rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council is now focussing its efforts to ensure that the district’s homeless are not forced to return to the streets.
At the start of the lock-down in March and the closure of both the LWS and Leamington night shelters, the Council headed up an emergency programme supported by staff and volunteers from local agencies including P3, Salvation Army Way Ahead Project, Helping Hands, Cyrenians and LWS Night Shelter to locate and offer accommodation to all those sleeping rough in our district.
A total of 38 people were accommodated and as well as having a safe place to stay, they have been provided with food deliveries including lunches and hot meals. A majority of those placed are also receiving regular support from a team of professional outreach officers, specialising in a wide spectrum of needs including mental and physical health and help with alcohol and drug addiction. This provision is in addition to the emergency accommodation provided by the Council’s direct access hostel at William Wallsgrove House, which has remained open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the pandemic.
Although the additional COVID-19 funding received from central government has ended, the Council is working on a number of schemes with the aim of making the move to secure accommodation a permanent one for those facing homelessness or sleeping rough. To date three former rough sleepers have been given introductory tenancies and more allocations are due to be made in the coming weeks. The Council’s Housing team is also in the process of sourcing more properties to add to its growing portfolio of self-contained, furnished accommodation with support for those transitioning from a life on the streets.
Warwick District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing Services Councillor Jan Matecki commented;
“I want to thank my colleagues working in our direct access hostel William Wallsgrove House, our outreach teams, local charities, businesses and voluntary agencies for their incredible achievements and support during this crisis. There are too many examples to list of all of them, but I would like to highlight the work of P3, Salvation Army, Helping Hands and LWS Shelter for their daily visits, practical and emotional support to our tenants; to Aston Martin, IRESS and Bericote Estate agency who gifted home appliances such as microwaves, ovens and washing machines. I would also like to thank Aubrey Allen, Tesco, Morrisons, the Sikh Community, the Midland Langar Society and other local restaurants for the food and prepared meals they have provided and coordinated. This is in addition to the large number of donations received from community groups, churches and individuals.”
“Long before the pandemic, this Council made a commitment to eradicate rough sleeping in the district and we will continue to work tirelessly in conjunction with our partners to make rough sleeping in Warwick District a thing of the past.”
Despite the efforts of local support agencies, the Council is aware that a number of very vulnerable individuals, with complex needs and addictions are risking their health by returning to our shopping areas and asking directly for money.
Cllr Jan Matecki added;
“As lockdown restrictions are lifted, I would like to renew my appeal to the public not to offer cash to anyone asking for money on the street. Rather than giving directly please either direct these people to local support groups or donate to ‘Meaningful Change-Royal Leamington Spa’, a local multi-agency campaign made up of a number of charities who are all working together to provide meaningful and long-term support, to help these people to turn their lives around.”
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All blogs are written or edited by Cllr Pam Redford & Cllr Trevor Wright