I really appreciated hearing people's thoughts and views, as well as receiving an invitation to join the Four Streets project one evening in Chichester to find out more about their work.

On Friday evening, I was privileged to join Polly and Andy, two of the incredible volunteers from the Four Streets project. Every evening, two volunteers collect left over food from Chichester food businesses, and then walk around the city handing it out to those who are either sleeping on the streets, or those have accommodation available but who are still struggling.

It was a real eye opener. We walked around the city talking to around 15 people - half of whom have accommodation, but who are still struggling, and are grateful for the food and drink on offer. What I found especially shocking, was the speed at which someone's life could change so significantly. I spoke to people who had gone from being successful business people, to losing everything, all within a very short period of time.

It's vital that we all pull together to support rough sleepers to turn their lives around. We have some incredible people in our district and the volunteers from the Four Streets project are a perfect example of this. They are giving up their own time, day in, day out, to help those who really need it. From the bottom of my heart, I really want to say thank you. I saw first-hand how those living on the street really appreciate your support.

As I said last week, we know that there are some very kind hearted people who provide rough sleepers with money and items. If you do want to help, the best option is to give donations to our local support groups and charities such as the Four Streets project, Stonepillow, HEART and the Greater Change, rather than giving money directly. We work very closely with these charities and they are making a real difference to people's lives. By supporting these groups you can be assured that the money will be used to provide the right kind of help and support needed by those who are living on the streets and will help them to access a long term solutions. By donating, volunteering, fundraising or attending one of their events, you can help them to continue their crucial work to support and empower people to recover from homelessness.

As a council we are working closely with our partners to help rough sleepers to access accommodation and the services that they need. Every day, our dedicated Outreach Workers, go out to offer support to all rough sleepers. Their dedication and perseverance has meant that lives have been changed. Many of those who have accepted support are now in accommodation and getting back into work. Others are engaging with services and starting to turn their lives around. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept our help - but this does not stop us continuing to offer it.

If you are concerned about an individual rough sleeping, please let us know by filling in the details on Streetlink . This referral will go directly to our Outreach Worker, who will attempt to find the individual and assess their needs. Our officers work very closely with Stonepillow, a registered charity, which provides a lifeline for homeless people with a drop in day centre providing the opportunity to access services and support as well as a hostel. The focus of the hostel is to give people the stability and skills to make positive choices towards getting back into the community. The council provides an annual grant towards their work and we also recently provided additional funding to enable them to open their Chichester Hub seven days a week. Stonepillow also works with the council to provide emergency beds for rough sleepers during poor weather conditions. 

The council is also moving forward with a £2.1 million project to provide additional temporary accommodation for people facing homelessness. Subject to planning permission, the council is planning to redevelop one of its properties and transform it into accommodation that will provide 17 units for single people who are homeless and vulnerable. If planning permission is granted, we hope that work will start on site later this year.

Rough sleeping is something that we all want to reduce and combat. By working together we can make a difference.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council