Annual count reveals fewer people are sleeping rough

4 March 2021

The number of people sleeping rough in Cheshire West and Chester continues to fall, with our latest, formal, annual count finding four people living on the streets.

This is a reduction on the previous year’s count when we found 14 people, and the year before that when there were 17. Since the day of the count on 11 November 2020, the number of people sleeping rough in our borough has remained low.

The figures, published by the Government on 25 February, show a national downward trend in the number of people living on the streets falling for the third year in a row across England.

Councillor Matt Bryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Climate Emergency, said: "There are various reasons for these low figures and the ongoing fall in people sleeping rough in the borough. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent financial support has had an impact on how we can help people move into more stable and secure lifestyles.

"At the start of the lockdown last March, the Council, forfutures, voluntary groups and the drug and alcohol service WDP used their well-established partnership to set up and run the 'Everyone In' Programme to ensure everyone had a room along with access to food and support. The subsequent, successful bid for government funding in September last year meant we could continue to provide emergency accommodation.

"The funding also meant we could open the Mulberry Centre in Chester on a temporary basis from last summer to provide short term supported accommodation units for up to 30 residents. It also helped us to set up a Winter Offer, providing shelter for those who found themselves on the streets through winter.

"The MARS (Multi Agency Rough Sleeping) project is also having an impact. This multi-agency approach is helping people still living on the street or those that have been placed in the Winter Offer to receive individual support specific to each person.

"The Council will continue to support the Government's aim to end rough sleeping. Our commissioned homelessness support service provided by forfutures and substance misuse service provided by WDP are vital to help us achieve it, as are the additional services we have been able to provide through grant funding.

"Over the coming months we will be enhancing existing services with new initiatives to help people move from emergency accommodation into their own home providing specialist support as and when required."

There continues to be high numbers of people accommodated in hotels across the borough, with a total of 174 on 1 March. We will continue to work with and support these people to overcome a range of issues and secure them a more permanent home. This is challenging given the numbers of households in this situation, but a vital part of our work.

The Council and our partners also provided shelter and support for people sleeping rough when the weather was cold in the last few months following the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

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