Council continues campaign to tackle homelessness
Test Valley Borough Council is continuing its campaign to prevent and tackle homelessness in the borough following reports of rough sleepers in Andover town centre.
The authority is issuing advice to residents and shoppers in a bid to reduce the number of people giving money directly to those begging as this has the potential to exacerbate the problem.
Housing and environmental health portfolio holder, councillor Phil Bundy, said: “We are absolutely committed to tackling homelessness and continue to focus our resources on addressing and preventing the problem. Last year the council’s housing team prevented 427 households from becoming homeless.
“Rough sleeping is a complex issue and one that requires a variety of local agencies to work closely together to offer support to those in need. Unfortunately, the generosity and goodwill of members of the public can hamper efforts being made by local agencies to persuade people to move off the streets and come inside. Giving money directly to rough sleepers can sustain and prolong the problem and make them less likely to accept help from the local agencies, which has consequences for both their physical and mental health.
“It is important to note that not all forms of street activity, such as begging and drinking, equate to homelessness and many of these individuals have very complex issues. It is therefore vital that they have access to the right services, which is why people may wish to consider supporting local charities, such as Two Saints, Alabare and Andover Foodbank, that work directly with homeless people and those with substance abuse issues.”
The average age of mortality for rough sleepers in England has been estimated at 43 years, almost half the UK life expectancy. Earlier this year, the authority launched a new pilot to coincide with the commencement of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. The pilot includes additional investment to support the council and its partners to prevent and relieve homelessness, and a commitment that, wherever possible, no individual who presents themselves as homeless will have to leave the council offices and sleep rough without first being made an offer of accommodation. For those living on the street, support and assistance is available to provide accommodation.”
Councillor Bundy, added: “We want to reassure residents that we do all we can to help those who are sleeping rough as well as those at risk of ending up on the street. I would urge anyone who is worried about their housing situation to contact the council’s housing team as soon as possible as there are measures we can put in place to help prevent homelessness.
Residents can report rough sleepers via the national StreetLink service at www.streetlink.org.uk