We're delivering the campaign in partnership with our amazing local homeless charities. The aim is to encourage people to give to Stonepillow, Heart and The Four Streets Project, instead of giving money directly to those on the street. The reason for this is that  while many people are very generous and give money to rough sleepers, this is actually helping to keep people on the streets, and unfortunately prevents people from accessing the long-term, specialist support that they need.

You may not be aware of it, but there is a huge amount of support available in the district for rough sleepers and by giving to our excellent local charities, you will be helping them to provide sustained support to clients. If you see someone sleeping rough, more often than not, we will be aware of them and we will have offered them support through our excellent Rough Sleeper Outreach Support Team which works closely with all rough sleepers in the area. For a variety of reasons though, it can take time for people to accept support, but we visit each rough sleeper every day to offer them support and check on their wellbeing.

I now want to tell you more about our wonderful homeless charities, who we are incredibly proud to work with. HEART is a partnership of 14 local churches in Chichester, who want to play their part in helping some of the most vulnerable people in Chichester. They have an amazing group of dedicated volunteers who each day, provide a hot meal to rough sleepers and homeless people at one of HEART's churches.

Another charity is The Four Streets Project. They have a wonderful team of volunteers who provide a range of support each night. This includes providing hot food and drink as well as supplying people with essential items. Since the pandemic, they have also been providing a supper club and volunteers talk to those who attend and let them know about the different services that are available in the area that can support them further.

The other charity that we are working with is Stonepillow. They support homeless and vulnerable people every day of the year and provide a complete recovery journey for clients, focusing on helping them improve their health and wellbeing, and sustain independent living. They also work with a range of other partners to provide safe, secure, high-quality accommodation and support with mental health and recovery. They also provide fresh food and essential items and during the pandemic have been working to keep people safe and well.

We know that people in the district are extremely generous and want to help others, but the best way to help rough sleepers in the long term is to support the charities and organisations that work with rough sleepers on a regular basis.

Another aspect that you may not be aware of is that not everyone on the streets is homeless and that there are people who come into the city to beg for money, and sometimes from quite far away. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to tell the difference, and so by giving to our local homeless charities you will be making sure that your money goes towards helping those who really need it. You can also be assured that we make every single person on the streets aware of the support that is available, regardless of their situation.

One of our top priorities is to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping in the district. We are working closely with our local partners to ensure that accommodation is available to those that need it and that no-one has to sleep on the streets. One of the things we have been doing is applying for government funding on behalf of local partners to help increase temporary accommodation in the area. We have had a number of successful bids and this will really help make a difference.

I encourage as many of you as possible to support this important campaign. You can find out more on our website, where you can find details of all the charities.

Ultimately, ending homelessness is about more than just housing, it's about providing a home where residents feel secure and can make a success of their lives.  Our 'Make your Change Count' campaign and the work of charitable partners aims to make a difference, not just by getting people off the street but making real change.  

Councillor Alan Sutton

Cabinet Member for Housing Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council