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New service launched to help homeless in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

Rough sleepers in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes are being offered help in getting their lives back on track thanks to a partnership between local councils.

As part of their commitment to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Councils are working in partnership to deliver an outreach service to rough sleepers.

The service, which launches on 26 June, works by providing a combination of outreach support and assessment hubs where people can go to access help.

The new outreach team will work with individuals to prevent or reduce the length of time spent on the streets, while in more complex cases mental health crisis workers will ensure more intensive support is provided.
It’s estimated that the service will work with around 700 people in the region over the next two years; targeting not only rough sleepers but also those at risk of becoming rough sleepers to prevent them moving on to the streets.

The service has been set up following a successful bid by Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Councils for grant funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government. The £623,000 funding received will enable this service to be provided for two years.

Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson said: “Homelessness is a national crisis and in Bedford we are tackling the problem head-on. This is the latest in a string of work the Council has done as part of our commitment to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, including the new Complex Needs Unit which is set to open later this year providing specialist accommodation and support for some of the most vulnerable.”

Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services at Bedford Borough Council, said: “This new service is good news as rough sleepers are amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable people in our society and require additional support to re-integrate into the community. It’s hoped this new service will ensure there is a cohesive pathway for people who are rough sleeping or at risk of doing so.”

Councillor Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care & Housing at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The newly funded service is very welcome and will help to build upon the work already established here in Central Bedfordshire to prevent homelessness and support those who are sleeping rough.

“We understand that homelessness can happen to anyone at any stage in their life and at times through no fault of their own. We want to ensure that we are doing all we can to help people back on their feet.

“And with the new mobile assessment hub launching and operating across the whole of Central Bedfordshire and nearby regions it will provide the best possible support for those sleeping rough to access the services they need and move away from the streets.” 

Councillor Tom Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Luton Borough Council, said: “Luton Council is committed to reducing homelessness in the town and we are pleased to be working with other authorities across the region to address homelessness and, equally importantly, the factors that can lead to people moving onto the streets.”

Councillor Nigel Long, Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and Housing at Milton Keynes Council, said: “Tackling homelessness in Milton Keynes, in all its forms, is a fundamental priority for our council. Having a specialist team here and across the region will help us to help those most in need, and help those at risk of losing their home, before they reach the streets. This is a great example of councils working together to fund the right kind of help, exactly where and when it is needed the most.”
Notes to Editors:

Assessment hub locations

Central Milton Keynes and Bletchley: hosted by Open Door MK
• Mondays: 11am - 2pm and Fridays: 10:30am - 1pm at Salvation Army, Ramsons Avenue, Conniburrow, Milton Keynes, MK14 7BA
• Wednesdays:  11- 2pm at Queensway Methodist Church Hall, Queensway, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK2 2HB

Bedford Borough: hosted by SMART
• Monday – Friday 9am - 12pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 2pm - 5pm at SMART Prebend Centre, Prebend Street, Bedford, MK40 1QW

Luton: Hosted by Signposts Luton
• Monday – Friday, 9am - 5pm at SOS Nightshelter, James Court, Arthur Street, LU1 3SG

Central Bedfordshire
• Details of how to access the assessment hub will be published on Central Bedfordshire Council’s website www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

If members of the public are concerned about anyone sleeping rough, they can contact the national 24 hour rough sleeping referral line StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or online at www.streetlink.org.uk

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