COPELAND Council has launched its homelessness and rough sleeping strategy setting out how it supports some of its most vulnerable residents.
The five-year plan sets out how the council is tackling homelessness in Copeland.
The strategy was launched on Friday (January 24) at a Copeland Housing Partnership meeting attended by partners including County Council, Whitehaven Community Trust, Time to Change (West Cumbria), Home Group, Castles and Coasts and Impact Housing Association as well as private housing developers.
One of the strategy’s aims is to reduce the level of hidden homeless – those who stay temporarily with family, friends or acquaintances, who don’t have access to permanent accommodation and are at risk of having to sleep rough.
The strategy also details the support available for vulnerable residents including victims of domestic abuse and their children. Since the council introduced a specialist role to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation in 2018, its officer has provided vital help to 81 women and men, and 91 children, who were all homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Early intervention is a key theme of the strategy with the council aiming to prevent homelessness before it occurs.
The council works with many different groups, individuals and organisations in a variety of ways because the causes of homelessness are so wide-ranging.
Many people seeking advice from the council are at risk of homelessness due to a relationship breakdown with their co-habiting partners. One of the main reasons for under-24s becoming homeless is being asked to leave the family home by parents who can no longer cope, so the council mediates with the parents, offering specialist support. It also encourages parents to allow young people at risk of becoming homeless to stay at home whilst back-up support is given to help them all to work on the relationship breakdown.
Another reason for potential homelessness is that people are facing eviction and so the council works with landlords to negotiate tenancy breaches, such as high levels of rent arrears, and to put payment plans in place or assist through applications for discretionary housing payments.
Since April 2019 the council’s Housing team has supported 358 people. The team has received 212 homeless applications and have successfully rehoused or prevented 142 people from becoming homeless, the remainder of the cases are ongoing. They have also provided temporary accommodation to 32 people, 10 of these involved families with children.
Councillor Sam Pollen, Homelessness Champion, said: “Our approach to homelessness, how we treat those people at their lowest ebb and crisis point in their lives, defines us as a council.
“I’m proud to say we have a strong record and an excellent, compassionate and committed team.
“However, we face continued pressure to do more for more people and this strategy is vital to helping us navigate this demand and define our priorities.”
The council’s Housing team provides 24-hour advice and support to those at risk of homelessness. For more information go to www.copeland.gov.uk or call 01946 598300.