16 AUG 2018

Eradicating Rough Sleeping

It is simply unacceptable that in 21st century England 4,750 people are sleeping rough on any given night. Rough sleeping is a real problem, a burning injustice, which is prevalent close to home with homelessness sadly and frequently in our local headlines and a reported recent 45% increase in rough sleeping in our County Town.

This week the Government published its 'Rough Sleeping Strategy' which will, encouragingly, focus on introducing measures to address the root causes of homelessness. The strategy commits the Government to eradicating rough sleeping by 2027 and provides £100 million worth of funding to help achieve this, including £30 million specifically targeted towards mental health support and treatment for substance misuse.

As the statistics demonstrate there are vulnerable people within our community who need support to find sustainable accommodation. I am therefore delighted that Maidstone Borough Council have recently been allocated more than £300,000 to help eradicate homelessness in our borough. The cash will help to: employ a new rough sleeper co-ordinator, fund an addiction reduction specialist and provide additional much needed temporary accommodation. This is hugely welcome and could be a game changer for reducing homelessness in Maidstone.

Alongside our local authority, there are also inspirational charities helping those without a home to access the support that they need. I must acknowledge the great work being done by the Maidstone Winter Shelter project, the Maidstone Day Centre and the Salvation Army who provide crucial assistance to people without accommodation. I am also delighted that the Kenward Trust are placing an increased focus on providing rehabilitation services to those who are homeless and I was enormously proud to present them with a cheque for £1000 following my recent Rural Business Forum which I know will help them to deliver this work.

By working together central government, local government and local charities can provide the support needed to end rough sleeping in our town; sooner rather than later.

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Helen's column

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