Headlines: November 14th, 2007

Local authorities and the voluntary sector are to be invited to bid for a share of a 70 million pound expansion of funding aimed at helping people living rough to make a permanent move away from the streets. It is hoped the money will pay for more than 100 new or upgraded hostels that will provide training facilities to help rough sleepers become independent as well as providing accommodation.

The Housing Minister, Yvettee Cooper, said exisiting facilities had already had a dramatic impact by transforming hostels from being places to sleep for the night to places that could help people into work. She said there had been a 30 per cent increase in the number of homeless people who had moved into training, further education, jobs or into independent living. One hostel in Leicester had reported a 100 per cent improvement.

Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, the umbrella agency that is administering the scheme, said, “While the Government, working in partnership with local authorities and the voluntary sector, has achieved major reductions in homelessness over the past decade with homelessness recorded by local authorities dropping to 21,062 in the last quarter – the lowest level for more than 20 years – we need to push even harder for more improvement.”

The new style hostels offer training on site so residents can learn practical vocational skills ranging from catering to sound engineering. Other projects so far have included social enterprises, where they can learn the skills needed to run businesses. Examples include a cafe in Newcastle and a scheme to grow and deliver organic fruit and vegetables to restaurants.