West Berkshire Council

Support for rough sleepers continues

Rough sleepers offered warm, safe accommodation

2018 Rough Sleeper

Support for rough sleepers remains in place across West Berkshire with cold weather forecast for the next few days.

West Berkshire Council's severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) has been in place since 1st November. Rough sleepers are able to access warm, safe accommodation, either at Two Saints or elsewhere depending on demand, as well as wider support and advice where appropriate. This targeted intervention helps the small number of people who are not normally eligible for services, choose to sleep rough or have previously refused support from housing services.

Anyone without anywhere to stay tonight should visit West Berkshire Council's offices in Market Street, Newbury for support. Anyone who becomes homeless when the offices are closed should contact the council's Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543. You can also tell Streetlink.

Supporting rough sleepers during adverse weather is part of a much broader programme of activity to tackle homelessness in the district. West Berkshire Council's housing team works alongside a number of local partners year-round to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place as well as offering help and support when it does occur - including through its 'No Second Night Out' policy to help people find emergency accommodation.

Outreach workers have continued to work with people sleeping rough in the area to let them know accommodation is available along with other options for support. This has included a small number of people currently sleeping rough in an encampment alongside the river and adjacent to the Faraday Road Industrial Estate in Newbury. Each person has been offered a place to stay and the Council continues to work with them to offer support.

West Berkshire Council is planning to visit the area to litter pick and remove abandoned tents. In the coming weeks a possession order and injunction will be sought to remove the encampment completely.

Councillor Hilary Cole, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness, said:

"Throughout the year the council is working extremely hard to reduce homelessness and support people who sleep rough. We're absolutely committed to ensuring that no one has to sleep outside; it is one of our priorities. This becomes even more important when it is extremely cold as it is now. West Berkshire Council's severe weather emergency protocol will remain active for as long as necessary to make sure that all rough sleepers who want a warm, safe place are found somewhere to stay.

"The local Homeless Strategy Group has developed a robust winter plan over the last year to coordinate the local response to rough sleeping. Voluntary groups and charities including West Berkshire Homeless, Loose Ends and Newbury Soup Kitchen have joined forces to focus their efforts to support the work of Two Saints and ensure that rough sleepers receive the help they need to help them back to independence and a home.

"While we understand that the options available won't be for everyone, the offer is always there and we are doing our best to help as many people as possible. Our priority is to ensure that everyone has somewhere warm to sleep as the temperature drops."

More information about the support available for rough sleepers can be found on the West Berkshire Council website.