1st December 2021

Somerset West and Taunton commits to ending rough sleeping by 2027

At a Full Council meeting this week (Tuesday, 5 October), Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) agreed to adopt an accommodation strategy and delivery plan to support single homeless people and end rough sleeping in the district by 2027.

People become homeless for lots of different reasons.  There are social causes of homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment; and life events which push people into homelessness, which can trigger a range of health problems as a result.  Some may also find themselves sleeping rough.

To address these issues, SWT’s Single Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Accommodation Strategy and associated Delivery Plan provides a detailed analysis of demand and sets out a path to improving the accommodation offered through better facilities that match local need.

Using a client centred approach that will be ongoing throughout the process, it also aims to improve the standard of support through enhanced collaboration with vital support services such as health and care.

Executive Member for Housing, Cllr Fran Smith, said: “We’re committed to working with our partners to improve the support and accommodation offered to our homeless and rough sleeper community.

“With the adoption of the accommodation strategy and delivery plan, we believe that we’ve made a significant declaration of intent to end rough sleeping in our area by 2027.”

During March 2020, SWT opened the homeless hostel at Canonsgrove.  This 60-bed facility has since helped to stabilise many lives, with many moving on to independent living.

This has been achieved with the help of the YMCA, Arc Inspire, and health, care and other services all working together.  However, the facility at Canonsgrove will need to close by March 2023.

Delivery of the strategy has already commenced and conversations with accommodation providers are at an advanced stage.  In addition to working with central government to draw down funding support, SWT has identified additional funding to support the delivery.

Cllr Fran Smith added: “Canonsgrove has taught us what is achievable and what else needs to happen, and we’re confident we’ll have a range of new accommodation secured before it closes.  There’s much to do and the work will continue beyond this with the new Unitary council ‘taking up the baton’ beyond 2023.”

With World Homelessness Day having occurred over the weekend, combined with the efforts of other charities and faith groups seeking to raise awareness of homelessness and the impact on people’s lives, the council’s decision to adopt the strategy and delivery plan is very timely.

To view the Single Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Accommodation Strategy & Delivery Plan, visit:

https://democracy.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/documents/s17546/Single%20Homelessness%20and%20Rough%20Sleeper%20Accommodation%20Strategy%20Delivery%20Plan.pdf