Assessment hub is helping people lead lives away from the streets

2 August 2019

Dozens of people who were sleeping rough across the borough have moved into accommodation in the last three months, according to Council data.

Since the Council’s Hamilton House assessment hub opened in Chester in April:
  • 26 people have accepted the support offered and are now in accommodation
  • 90 people have been referred to or offered short stays, giving staff more time to identify the best support and accommodation for each individual
  • 35 people have been supported by the hub’s ‘Navigators’
Hamilton House is providing a safe, emergency environment away from the street. It is open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by our partner forfutures to anyone who presents and identified as rough sleeping.

It offers shower and toilet facilities, food and drink, clean clothes and help and advice. The hub provides a washing machine and dryer as well as a kitchen to prepare and cook food.

Storage space for belongings is also available, which helps to reduce the number of personal items abandoned in doorways.

Navigators offer tailored support to people sleeping rough until they are settled in accommodation. In addition to focusing on finding a housing solution, they also help people find employment and training, develop budgeting skills, and be better equipped to maintain their independence to avoid returning to the street. 

Cllr Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: “The hub is an integral part of the Council’s structured pathway of housing and support. We recognise the invaluable help of charities, voluntary groups and businesses, who make the services available for homeless people in Chester even better. 

“The main purpose of the hub is to interview and assess individuals so that they have a pathway to accommodation which could include supported housing, the private rented sector, social housing or staying with family or friends. We have been working with our partners to make Hamilton House a success and the Council is committed to ending rough sleeping.”

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homeless Lead at forfutures, said: “Hamilton House’s location in the centre of Chester has meant that we have had good engagement with people sleeping rough coming in to access the service, providing a safe place for us to assess their needs. 

“Our aim for Hamilton House has always been to provide a non-challenging and non-threatening place where our team can work intensively with customers to understand and assess their needs and enable them to move away from life on the streets. This approach means that we are able to bring in people that wouldn’t normally come into services, and the results in the first three months are really encouraging and demonstrate the value of this approach.”

Hamilton House is a Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub and one of only 11 similar schemes across the country being funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It opened as part of the Government’s Rapid Rehousing Pathway.

In the next six months will be strengthening the support offered at Hamilton House and developing the Rapid Rehousing Pathway by: 
  • introducing a Housing Management Service which will seek to increase the amount of available private rented accommodation around the borough
  • recruiting specialist workers in substance misuse and mental health
  • continuing to work with partners to help people who are sleeping rough access services and accommodation, including a ‘Housing First’ approach.

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