Theresa May backs Homeless Helpline appeal and pledges £50 million to tackle rough sleeping

The funding includes £10m aimed at schemes targeting those at imminent risk

Matt Watts
Thursday 22 December 2016 01:18
The PM met with former homeless people at a skills academy in the capital today
The PM met with former homeless people at a skills academy in the capital today

Theresa May has given her support to The Independent’s Christmas Appeal while announcing £50m for projects to tackle the “tragedy” of rough sleeping.

The Prime Minster said: “The early intervention and advice that the Young and Homeless Helpline can provide will help turn young lives around and save people from the injustice of rough sleeping.

“I salute everyone who has taken part in this year’s appeal and it is doing vital work to raise funds and awareness of the problem.”

Speaking during a visit to a homeless project in south London this morning, she said: “Christmas generosity, together with the work of government, can make a real difference to vulnerable young people on the verge of sleeping rough.”

“Homelessness is a tragedy for all of us – especially for those affected,” she added. “All the more so because it can happen at any time and for a wide variety of reasons.”

Our appeal has raised more than £1m to help Centrepoint, whose patron is Prince William, launch the first national advice and support helpline for people aged between 16 and 25 facing homelessness or already sleeping rough.

It will fill a void in housing support for growing numbers of young people facing homelessness – and help them with wider issues including mental health, addiction and family breakdown.

More than 150,000 young people facing homelessness seek housing support from local authorities each year – but up to a third are turned away with no help or advice.

Ms May and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, who has already given his support to the campaign, announced a £50m government funding pot for homeless schemes during a visit to the Thames Reach Employment Academy in Camberwell.

The funding includes £10m aimed at schemes targeting the imminent risk of having to sleep rough – including £414,000 towards the No First Night Out homelessness-prevention drive by City of London, Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils in the capital.

Birmingham has been given a £1.7m boost to tackle the root causes that can lead to someone losing their home, including funding for a new partnership board to take responsibility for homelessness services, and new dedicated teams to support vulnerable people leaving custody and hospital with no fixed address.

Some £10m nationwide will go to new social impact bonds devised to fund help for a smaller number of people with the most complex needs, including mental health issues and poor education.

The new programme builds on other funding from the Government to prevent homelessness, including providing £100m for at least 2,000 low cost accommodation places for rough sleepers leaving hostel accommodation and domestic abuse victims and their families moving on from refuges.

During the visit, the politicians met former rough sleepers being trained with new skills to help turn their lives around and watched trainees paint a nursery as part of a six-week course to become full-time decorators with qualifications and references.

Thames Reach chief executive Jeremy Swain said: “This place is all about getting people into work. Our strong view is that the best way of avoiding homelessness in the future is to help people get the skills to move into a job.”

Up to 2,000 people get support each month at the centre – which offers help, advice and training for a range of problems, not just homelessness.

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