The number of people verified as sleeping rough in Thanet has fallen by 50 per cent from 46 in 2017, to 23 in 2018.
This information has emerged following the annual rough sleeping count which took place between 4am and 7:30am on Thursday 22 November. This fall in numbers would not have been achieved without the work of the new Thanet RISE team.
The count was undertaken by volunteers from Thanet District Council’s housing team alongside the Department for Work and Pensions, Kent Police, and Porchlight. Working in teams they sought to identify and engage with those bedding down in the streets. The figures from the count contribute to the overall national homeless statistics.
Last week (Monday 19 November) the award winning Thanet Winter Shelter, now in its third year, opened its doors to continue its work of helping people to find accommodation so that they don’t return to the streets.
The shelter is run by the Salvation Army with support from the council and local churches. This year, thanks to additional council funding the shelter is running for an extra month (until the end of March 2019).
The venue of the shelter moves each night and is also supported by a number of different churches in Thanet. As well as providing at least 20 bed spaces every night (some venues have additional emergency spaces), the shelter also provides its guests with a hot dinner and breakfast.
This year the Winter Shelter is also working closely with the newly formed Thanet RISE project, a multi agency team who will be supporting those who come to the shelter. RISE will ensure personalised support plans are in place so clients can be helped to find long-term accommodation, whilst also addressing any barriers which have prevented them finding and keeping a home in the past.
Cllr Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing at Thanet District Council, said:
“Seeing the numbers of rough sleepers in Thanet fall is evidence that the work we are doing is having a positive impact. Eventually we’d like to see no one sleeping on the streets. While we still have a way to go, this is really great progress. This is in no small part, due to the multi-agency RISE team.
“It is also important to acknowledge that the Thanet Winter Shelter is a lifeline for those who are homeless at this time of year. As well as providing a warm bed, clothes and food, a key aim of the shelter is to better equip guests to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation. Crucially the team behind the Shelter, together with the multi-agency RISE team, also help guests prepare for and find training and employment.
“The shelter has enjoyed tremendous success in the past two years. Many of those who accessed support each year have since been able to make the move from homelessness to rehabilitation back into the community. We’re very much hoping that this year will continue this positive track record.”
The Winter Shelter Manager is employed by the Salvation Army. As well as coordinating the nightly locations, the manager oversees the many volunteers involved. There are approximately 1,500 volunteer spaces available across all nights during the shelter’s opening. Specialist volunteers, such as hairdressers and a chiropodist, have also signed up to offer their services. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up here: http://thanetwintershelter.org/volunteer
*Thanet Winter Shelter – ‘Giving Hope to Change’ won in the category: Excellence in Delivery Services for Vulnerable People at the Kent Housing Group’s Excellence Awards 2018 on 19 September 2018.