A homeless hub set up by Croydon Council offering 24-hour, 365-day help to get rough sleepers off the streets has received continued Government funding for an extra year.
The Somewhere Safe To Stay hub opened before Christmas to house existing and new rough sleepers while offering same-day assessments of their financial, medical and housing needs to end their homelessness for good.
Ahead of a formal launch event this afternoon (Thursday), this week the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed the council’s Gateway service will receive £1.218m in 2020/21 for its ongoing homelessness prevention and intervention work, including the hub.
As well as former rough sleepers, council representatives, hub staff and community partners, the launch event was attended by special guest Roy Hodgson, the Crystal Palace Football Club manager and former England coach. The club works with the council on homelessness prevention work by hosting an emergency cold weather shelter at its Selhurst Park stadium.
In its first eight weeks of operation, the hub has helped 49 people who were referred by local specialists including the council’s Gateway service and partners Croydon Reach and Crisis. Of these, 15 were supported into longer-term accommodation including supported housing, council homes, private rented properties and housing association tenancies.
Croydon roofer Desmond Cooke originally became homeless in January 2019 when he was evicted by his private landlord, and after several months in hostels he was referred to the hub. He has now moved on to longer-term accommodation delivered by housing provider Changing Lives. He said: “I was a bit taken aback by it all; it’s fantastic. On December 7 or 8 I was desolate, but I walked in and the amount of help I had made me feel slightly guilty.”
Delivered for the council by specialist homelessness charity Evolve Housing + Support, the hub includes shared sleeping quarters, female-only shared bedrooms, a private room and a kitchen.
As well as the hub, the ongoing Government funding announced this week means the council can continue to deliver a number of other homelessness prevention schemes, including:
• Specialist housing and wraparound support for vulnerable long-term rough sleepers
• Food Stops where families at risk of homelessness get cut-price weekly shops and help to boost their financial independence and job prospects
• A mental health outreach and treatment service
The council received around £1.2m in total last year from three MHCLG schemes; the Rough Sleeping Initiative, Rapid Rehousing Fund and Cold Weather Fund.
“The council’s homeless hub is making a real difference to people who might otherwise still be sleeping rough on Croydon’s streets, and it underlines why the Government has committed more major funding to us on this type of work for another year.
“This event was a chance to not just thank Croydon community partners tackling homelessness with us but also meet more of the people who are the reason the hub exists.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services
Cutting a ribbon with Councillor Butler to unveil the hub, Roy Hodgson said: “I congratulate the council and I congratulate Evolve and all the other partners for all the things they are doing. I can only wish you all well and hope that this will be just the first venture in the area.”
Debra Ives, Director of Operations for Evolve Housing + Support, said: “We are delighted to deliver this service for Croydon Council, which will enable us to help people in a moment of crisis and get them off the streets.
“Becoming homeless is a traumatic experience in itself, but through the hub we are able to work with people to quickly achieve a pathway away from rough sleeping and break the cycle of homelessness.”