Lincolnshire has seen an increase in the number and the complexity of the needs of people who are homeless - but a plan to tackle the issue is underway thanks to a partnership made up of all the Lincolnshire district authorities and Lincolnshire County Council.
Figures show that rough sleeping is rising and there has been a year on year increase in rough sleeping levels across Lincolnshire. There has been a 100 per cent rise from 2012 to 2016 and a further 87 per cent rise between 2016 and 2017, according to the autumn rough sleeper counts.
To help respond and prevent people becoming homelessness and sleeping rough, the Lincolnshire Homelessness Partnership is launching a new Homelessness Strategy.
Amanda Pauling, Homelessness Prevention Programme Manager for Lincolnshire, admitted the challenge ahead is difficult but she is optimistic about the strategy and the partnership.
She said: “This strategy represents a genuine partnership approach to tackle and prevent homelessness.
“Together we have a real opportunity to make an impact for those who find themselves homeless in Lincolnshire.
“The challenge ahead is difficult as there are many factors that contribute to homelessness. But everyone has the right to a safe and secure home and that has to be our goal.”
The new homelessness strategy for Lincolnshire sets out the key challenges, priorities and objectives for preventing and tackling homelessness across Lincolnshire over the next 5 years.
The strategy has 5 key priority areas: Developing and maintaining strategic relationships and partnerships, preventing homelessness wherever possible, protecting the most vulnerable from experiencing homelessness including tackling rough sleeping, ensuring access to the right type of housing, and ensuring a sustainable future for supported housing.
The partnership has already implemented the new Homelessness Reduction Act. It includes a new duty to prevent homelessness regardless of priority need and for authorities to agree a personal housing plan with each applicant to prevent or relieve homelessness.
Amanda Pauling explained the Act represents a ‘key change in homelessness legislation’, particularly setting out greater support to prevent or relieve homelessness for those who are not in priority need.
The partnership is working with a range of statutory and voluntary sectors to tackle barriers that prevent rough sleepers from moving away from the streets. Significant numbers of rough sleepers have additional needs which can include mental health issues, addiction to drugs or alcohol, being physically unwell, or any combination of these. There are currently difficulties accessing appropriate treatment services.
The partnership continues to deliver the ‘ACTion Lincs’ project, which incorporates the support and co-ordination of key services including mental health, drug and alcohol treatment services, and the police as well as a number of other partners.
Jonny Goldsmith, Operations Manager for P3, which is delivering the ACTion Lincs project, said: “The development of ACTion Lincs is something that we should all quite rightly be proud of across Lincolnshire. And whilst relatively new, what the project has achieved to date, shows just what is possible when all partners – across a variety of different sectors – grasp the opportunity to work together.
“Our hope now is that we can build upon the positive start that the project has made to ensure that we can improve the offer, not only for the 120 people who will be part of the project, but for Lincolnshire as a whole.”
Speaking about the impact the strategy would have in East Lindsey, Councillor Wendy Bowkett, Portfolio Holder for Communities at East Lindsey District Council, said: “I’m glad to see this new strategy in place, I’m sure it will have a real impact in helping individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless, and protecting those who are already homeless - in East Lindsey and the county as a whole.
“This strategy is the latest move from the Lincolnshire Homelessness Partnership in looking to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and I hope this joined up approach can help tackle the issues we’re seeing across Lincolnshire at the moment.”