Milton Keynes faces a serious challenge of how best to help vulnerable rough sleepers. Their needs are about care and support as much as long term housing. In September the Labour led Council established the Milton Keynes Homelessness Partnership bringing together voluntary sector partners and other organisations to find a way of meeting the needs of rough sleepers and avoiding further tragic deaths.
On Tuesday 6 December the Council Cabinet will endorse twelve actions (see below) costing nearly £300,000 to further tackle the complex local problems.
Cllr Pete Marland, Leader of MK Council
Cllr Peter Marland, Council Leader said , “The Council gave a strong commitment to respond to the needs of people sleeping rough. The proposals going to Cabinet show we are listening to the key players working with rough sleepers and show that we can find a way to help some of the most vulnerable people in Milton Keynes.”
The measures include delivering on extra emergency accommodation, creating new support services and supporting the establishment of a One stop shop with services such as showers, a café, and advice.
Cllr Nigel Long, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Housing
Cllr Nigel Long, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Housing added, “Rough sleepers include ex armed forces personnel who fought for our country, people with mental health problems and people with a range of addictions. They often cannot sustain housing. We aim to provide assessments and care plans to help them stabilise their lives and find a way back into work and stable housing. We are bringing together expertise to achieve this.
Cllr Peter Marland concluded, “I believe it was a good decision to establish the Homelessness Partnership. We will ensure funds so it can continue. We will also secure funds so that the recommendations from the Partnership can be implemented. I would like to state publicly my thanks the Homelessness Partnership for their work. The difficult challenge now is to help the people literally on the streets. No civilised society should turn their backs on vulnerable people.”
Twelve Measures to tackle rough sleeping (Budgets to be allocated in brackets, where detailed)
1. Increase accommodation by 10 beds for over 35s and employ two support staff (£75k) to tackle low level needs.
2. Carry on funding YMCA for under 35s. (£90k)
3. Ensure Orbit’s current work with Over 25s who have complex needs is extended to to the over 35s.
4. Provide a One stop shop at the Buszy (Beacon). (The Winter Night Shelter has secured funding) Or alternative premises if need be.
5. Establish an Outreach link worker service. 2 staff (£75k)
6. Extend the current Open Door drop in service to 5 days a week (£50k)
7. Establish Dedicated Mental Health rough sleeper access point.
8. The Compass drug and alcohol service will continue its work.
9. Fund a modest Publicity campaign (£1k)
10. Establish the use of Public Space Protection Orders to deal with Anti Social Behaviour and begging as a last resort.
11. Fund the Homelessness Partnership and its future work (£3k)
Total funding needed £293,000
This is a joint Funding bid with Luton, Bedford and Central Beds Councils to the Government. It would:
a) Creative Outreach and prevention hubs allowing crisis intervention and further focus on people with mental health challenges.
b) Focus on Tackling entrenched rough sleeping. This would include proving support to address health issues, give access to counselling and help support people for into accommodation.
This is a bid to Government under three schemes announced previously.