Mansfield rough sleeping strategy 'a step in right direction' says Framework
A leading homelessness charity in Nottinghamshire has welcomed a new strategy which aims to end rough sleeping in Mansfield.
Mansfield District Council announced its plan, which aims to prevent as many residents as possible from becoming homeless and ensure that, if anyone has to sleep rough, it is brief and does not happen again.
The council will increase the number of officers who deal with rent arrears and debt support, a cause of evictions and homelessness, and work with neighbouring Ashfield and Newark & Sherwood District Councils as well as Nottinghamshire homelessness agencies.
Framework, one of Nottinghamshire's leading homelessness charities, has welcomed the scheme and said it is "step in the right direction" in the fight against rough sleeping in the town.
Andrew Redfern, Framework chief executive, said: “This strategy is certainly a significant step in the right direction.
"It is thorough and is very clearly based on evidence gathered from local stakeholders, including Framework, who work with homeless people in the district every day.
“There are many reasons why people become homeless, and also many reasons why people often remain homeless for a very long time – often risking their lives by sleeping rough on our streets.
"Indeed, in our experience many homeless people have many other complex needs, with substance misuse, mental and physical ill-health and histories of offending."
He added: “Helping those people can be very difficult indeed, and only works when local agencies – charities, the council, local police and NHS services – work together in partnership.
"We look forward to doing our bit to help make this strategy a success. However, the success of any such strategy is heavily dependent on the right funding being made available to deliver it.”
Helping people transfer to the Universal Credit benefit without falling into debt has been a major focus of the council's work, which will run for five years until 2024.
Jill Finnesey, Mansfield District Council head of housing, said: “Often people at risk have underlying problems, such as addictions, mental health issues or domestic abuse, so we need to ensure their needs are met appropriately.”
The council is also encouraging people to reduce food insecurity by growing their own food, and will provide access to free food and cooking skills classes.
Another objective is to increase the amount of social housing and the council plans to do this through a
£21 million programme to build more than 100 new council homes over the next five years.