West Berkshire Council

New approach to tackling rough sleeping in West Berkshire

A new approach to better coordinate services for people with multiple needs has been launched.

STOCK IMAGE - Homeless man

West Berkshire Council has brought together partners from across the district to discuss rough sleeping in the area and to launch a new approach to better coordinate services for people with multiple needs.

The morning seminar was held in conjunction with Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), a coalition of Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind. Rough sleeping is often the result not of a single issue but because someone faces multiple needs at the same time; such as homelessness, substance misuse, mental health problems and contact with the criminal justice system. The seminar looked in more detail at the experience of people with multiple needs, the support available and why that support is sometimes not accepted and how to become even more effective at tackling the problem in future years.

Delegates at the seminar also heard a first-hand account from someone who has experience of sleeping rough.

As a result of the meeting, the agencies agreed to form a partnership and adopt the MEAM approach in West Berkshire to help design and deliver better coordinated services for people with multiple needs. This is done through seven key principles ranging from the way people at risk of homelessness are identified, to the provision of a flexible and consistent service and the success and sustainability of local solutions. The approach is already being used in 15 other areas across the UK.

Speaking after the event Councillor Hilary Cole, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Housing said: "People who sleep rough have complex needs and to help them often requires a complex solution which agencies can't tackle in isolation. We are far more effective working together so pooling our resources and improving coordination between services means we will make a bigger difference. This event was well attended by local organisations and demonstrates our shared determination to achieve positive outcomes for those people who most need our help."

Richard Benyon MP, who opened the seminar, added: "I wholeheartedly support this united approach to tackling the issues of homelessness in a holistic way. Working as a collective will mean that all the organisations involved will be able to act more effectively to help more people."

As well as West Berkshire Council, MEAM and Richard Benyon MP the event was also attended by Thames Valley Police, Sovereign Housing Association, Healthwatch West Berkshire, homeless support service Two Saints, the Youth Offending Team, Mental Health Services, Sovereign , Citizens Advice Bureau West Berkshire, the drop-in centre Loose Ends and representatives from local businesses, Waitrose and The Swift Group.

To find out more about visit the Making Every Adult Matter website.