Home for rough sleepers

John Craig
John Craig

SHORT term accommodation for people sleeping rough could be a reality in Bridlington by the end of next year.

The search is on to find a large house in the town to convert into temporary accommodation for up to nine people supporter by 24 hour staff.

Symon Fraser

Symon Fraser

It follows news that East Riding of Yorkshire Council has got £308,000 in government funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to help it tackle rough sleeping and homelessness, mainly in Bridlington, a recognised hot spot, by taking them off the streets.

John Craig, the council’s forward planning and housing strategy manager, said: “Working in partnership with other organisations, the intention is to support their various needs including healthcare, probation, training, and employment to help equip them with the skills necessary for more independent living.”

He said at this stage the council will now begin a search for suitable property.

“It will have to be the right building in the right place and there will need to be a consultation and planning approval process. It is possible that could take us to the end of next year,” said Mr Craig.

He said rental from those using the facility, who would be on housing benefit, would contribute to the on-going costs of the project.

Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for environment, housing and planning, said: “This is an important opportunity for East Riding of Yorkshire Council to improve the way we can help rough sleepers.

“This scheme will enable up to nine adults with accommodation challenges to access the support they need to live independently and to manage their health or behaviour problems without resorting to more costly statutory intervention through the criminal justice system or NHS.

“It will also help the council to reduce the number of people sleeping rough in the East Riding.

“Local church groups have campaigned for a facility such as this for rough sleepers and the local police also recognise the need and support the proposal.”

Finding out exactly how many people are sleeping on the streets is difficult.

A council rough sleeper estimate in November 2010 identified 11 people sleeping rough in the East Riding, five of whom were in Bridlington, but that does not take into account the “hidden homeless” who are “sofa surfing”.

In May this year the council set up a partnership with the Hull Homeless and Rootless Project to develop a rough sleeper outreach service. Since then it discovered 19 such people in Bridlington but the figures are probably much higher.

News of the plan has been welcomed by Bridlington homeless charity the Kingfisher Trust which recently opened its own tea rooms in West Street which is also designed to give homeless people a chance of learning skills and getting their lives back on track.

Jean Dowdney, Trust vice-chair, said: “This is something the Trust has always been working towards and it is much needed in Bridlington.”