WOKINGHAM Borough Council has been awarded £91,000 by central government to help tackle rough sleeping in the area.
The funds will be put towards an outreach programme, providing support for those on the streets. Volunteers will be on hand to assist with accommodation and access to health professionals, benefit advisors and any necessary drug or alcohol dependency support.
A voluntary sector partner with experience in fighting the problem will also be commissioned to help on this project, to build on work already happening in the borough.
Ten rough sleepers were identified in the borough in November 2019, however the council understands there may be more.
“Having a home should be a basic human right. That’s why we at the council prioritise so highly tackling homelessness and ending rough sleeping,” said Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing. “Homelessness can have long term consequences for those affected. As a result, reducing homelessness and rough sleeping is a key priority for the council.”
A pilot night shelter, run by Bracknell based charity Pilgrim Hearts in conjunction with Churches Together in Wokingham, is running until the end of the month.
The shelter, which is run nightly in different churches, is accessed by referral only, through the council’s housing team and other organisations.
It offers camp beds for the night, dinner, breakfast and a fresh set of clothes.
Sue Jackson, founder of charity Wokingham in Need (WIN) said: “This is excellent news and WIN is happy to support where we can.
“The original funding from WIN to bring the Wokingham Drop-In Centre -at the Salvation Army- to the homeless in Wokingham, raised awareness and from those humble beginnings people have realised there is a need in our borough to support homeless and rough sleepers.
“WIN continues to support the drop-in centre with regular funding to the Salvation Army and providing a podiatrist.
“Indeed we have also provided the podiatrist to the homeless shelter currently up and running. We listen to requests and aim to help where needed. Hopefully this funding will make a great deal of difference to many people’s lives.”