A senior councillor has said successful initiatives to prevent an increase in rough sleeping will continue after figures showed no rise in numbers living on the streets of Stafford.
Official figures reported to the Government show that there are now seven rough sleepers in the town. This is the same figure as last year - but half the number from 2016.
Councillor Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities at the Borough Council, (pictured) said the latest count demonstrated the amount of good work being done to keep on top of the issue.
He said: “There is no shortage of housing in Stafford. There is accommodation available almost immediately. But unfortunately the issue is more complex than that and I can almost guarantee they would find themselves back on the streets just as quickly.
“We need to understand the needs of each person sleeping rough and make sure they have the appropriate help and support, working with the proper agencies, to maintain a roof over their head.”
Of the seven recorded earlier this month, only one had remained on the list from the previous rough sleeper count of 2017.
The work of the council has received national recognition - with high profile visits this year from the Housing and Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler MP, and Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP. The council was also singled out in the House of Lords for its successful initiatives to address the issue - and was the first in the Midlands to receive ‘Gold’ in a Government programme to prevent homelessness.
Two initiatives that attracted national attention are the Community Matron, Suzanne Rigby, dubbed the ‘Angel of Stafford’ by the rough sleepers she helps in the town. And the ‘Housing First’ project to get homeless people into long term, sustainable accommodation. The council introduced ‘Housing First’ with Midland Heart which runs the town’s Eagle House, a temporary accommodation for single people.
Councillor Pert also praised the other agencies - such as the police, Midland Heart and NHS - for working closely together to help some of the most vulnerable.
He added: “One person sleeping rough is one person too many. So we continue to be committed, along with our partners, to preventing homelessness wherever possible through early intervention and supporting people into long term, sustainable accommodation.”
Press Release No 5494