Minister visits Bournemouth to hear of support given to rough sleepers during the pandemic

Posted on Friday 28 August 2020

Support given to helping the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Luke Hall MP, during a private visit to BCP Council today (Friday 28 Aug). 

The Minister chose to visit Bournemouth after citing the excellent approach taken during lockdown in supporting some of our most vulnerable people. The council set up assessment hubs within local hotels for those sleeping rough to enable them to access health and other invaluable support services As a result of the work undertaken, significant numbers of people have successfully moved into more settled accommodation rather than return to life on the streets.  He heard that although there is still some way to go to help the remaining people out of the hotels into more longer term accommodation, great progress had been made for so many who have had their lives turned around. 

During his visit the Minister toured an example of the accommodation used to temporarily house those sleeping rough and met with residents who had benefitted from the support received. Mr Hall also engaged in a round table discussion with Chief Executive Graham Farrant, Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Kieron Wilson and key housing officers looking at the challenges faced by council teams and the many partner agencies in supporting the homeless. 

Councillor Kieron Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Housing, BCP Council, said: “We are delighted the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing chose to visit us and recognised the exemplary work that we have undertaken here to support our most vulnerable members of society which forms part of our vision in supporting fulfilled lives and the right of everyone to be safe and live independently. 

“The government gave councils an ‘Everyone In’ directive at the end of March to get all rough sleepers inside urgently.  We managed to house around 100 people in the first five days and subsequently housed many more over the coming weeks who were at risk of rough sleeping and had nowhere else to go.  

“We pride ourselves in the fact that we didn’t just put a roof over their heads but took a holistic approach to supporting people, ensuring they got proper access to appropriate medical help and worked with many partner services to address often quite complex support needs. I am delighted for all those involved that this has been highlighted today and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to keep improving outcomes for those who are homeless in our area.”