February 24, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Wiltshire Council gives advice on how to help rough sleepers this winter

Wiltshire County Council is offering advice to people on what they can do to support anyone they see sleeping rough on the streets. As numbers of rough sleepers have increased nationally and locally, the council wants people to be aware of the best option to provide real support.

  • What do you do when you see someone sleeping rough?
  • How can you really help someone when you’re not sure the best way to do it?

Wiltshire Council is offering advice to people on what they can do to support anyone they see sleeping rough on the streets. As numbers of rough sleepers have increased nationally and locally, the council wants people to be aware of the best option to provide real support.

If people see someone on the streets they can provide details to StreetLink which connects rough sleepers with local services that can support them. Streetlink will provide the council with details so officers can talk to the rough sleeper, help them find a warm place to stay and offer ongoing support.

People are also encouraged to donate to local charities in Wiltshire, which directly help those in need. Wiltshire Council will be sharing messages and information on social media throughout December to raise awareness of rough sleeping and what people can do to help.

The council works with rough sleepers throughout the year to help them find a place to stay and support to get back on track. The work is carried out alongside charities, which offer practical support as well as longer-term aid.*

In October the council supported 40 rough sleepers via early morning outreach – this is where officers go out in pairs to engage with rough sleepers, take hot coffees and see what support can be provided. Officers then arrange a follow up appointment to explore support and accommodation options. The approach aligns with the Wiltshire Council Business Plan to help residents live in warm and safe homes.

Currently more than 25 people are being helped into short-term accommodation in Wiltshire. The council’s rough sleeper tenancy officers also continue to support more than 50 rough sleepers into long-term accommodation.

Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing “It’s really hard to see someone sleeping rough. You want to do something to help and often it feels the easiest thing is to give money. We would encourage people instead to contact us via Streetlink as we will quickly act on the information sent to us. People can also donate to local homeless charities where the money is used to provide a range of practical support and advice.

“Some individuals who sleep rough have suffered child or adulthood traumas and sometimes it can take time to build trust and rapport before a rough sleeper will accept accommodation. Our rough sleeper outreach team will focus on the individual and supporting them into having a warm, safe place to stay.”

Wiltshire Council secured a government £1.5m government rough sleepers’ initiative grant, spread over three years up to 2025. Wiltshire Council has also received an additional £162k winter top up to its grant for this year. The grant helps fund accommodation, officers and programmes.

*Details of charities:

  • Doorway – in Chippenham provides support including hot meals, showers, laundry, internet and referrals to physical and mental health services or support with benefits and housing issues.
  • Opendoors in Devizes is another charity providing practical support so people can have a shower, access the kitchen, have space for food and clothing and computer work spaces.
  • Breakthrough, in Trowbridge provides ‘first-line’ support in the running of the drop-In centre. It helps those in need to access the services provided by local authorities & support organisations.
  • Encircles – homeless charity in Salisbury
  • Alabare
  • Bradford on Avon Hub
  • Cornerstone Warminster