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Modules keeping rough sleepers off the streets this Christmas

todayDecember 19, 2020 17

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Have you seen new portable cabins springing up around Lynn and wondered what they were?

They are part of the strategy to combat rough sleeping in the borough, in part caused by the Covid crisis.

That means that places like the Winter Night Shelter can take fewer beds due to social distancing restraints.

Views of the Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units on site next to The Kingsway Pavilion off Edward Benefer Way King's Lynn. (43563417)
Views of the Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units on site next to The Kingsway Pavilion off Edward Benefer Way King’s Lynn. (43563417)

The Bunkabin modules at Kingsway Pavilion and St Edmundsbury Road in North Lynn give homeless people a safe, warm place to eat and sleep.

Agencies across the borough have been working together to ensure that homeless people are found accommodation and work is ongoing to reduce the number of people who return to homelessness.

West Norfolk Council launched its Homeless and Rough Sleeping strategy in January 2020 but since then the world has changed.

Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units. (43563447)
Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units. (43563447)

During lockdown 1, the council responded to the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ programme, and with support from its partners, were able to accommodate all rough sleepers.

Since then work has been ongoing to secure longer-term solutions. With the announcement of planning permission being given for modular buildings on Reid Way inLynn last week, progress has been made on three significant elements of the Homeless and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

A successful bid of £709,239 to the Next Steps Funding Programme has helped fund to projects.

Views of the Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units on site within the grounds of the former North Lynn Community Centre, off St Edmundsbury Road North Lynn. (43563701)
Views of the Bunkabin Bespoke Sleeper Units on site within the grounds of the former North Lynn Community Centre, off St Edmundsbury Road North Lynn. (43563701)

The first one will enable Broadland Housing to buy six self-contained flats by March 2021. Alongside this accommodation, they will commission a provider to deliver extensive support to up to six rough sleepers, which will mean they receive intensive, personalised assistance to meet their needs and help them remain in long-term accommodation.

The second project under this funding will enable Broadland, in partnership with the council, to lease 10 self-contained flats from a private landlord to use as ‘move-on’ accommodation, helping people to move out of supported accommodation and hostels.

This will include two hours’ per week for residents of each flat to help them transition to long-term unsupported accommodation.

It is hoped that these will be available to use by the end of this year or early 2021.

The third is the construction of seven modular homes on Reid Way, again led by Broadland Housing, which will progress now that planning permission has been granted.Subject to availability of contractors and materials, it is hoped that these will be ready for summer/autumn 2021.

Michael Newey, chief executive of Broadland Housing, said: “We are really pleased to be working in close partnership with the Borough Council to help provide much-needed homes for people who currently face homelessness.

“As an organisation we have been committed to resolving homelessness for over 50 years and right now, especially with the pandemic, the need to find sustainable solutions has never been more important.”

Adrian Lawrence, West Norfolk Council cabinet member for Housing, said: “At the moment we have no verified rough sleepers, and everyone is in accommodation.

“The team have worked incredibly hard to achieve this with our partners, particularly Broadland Housing Association.

“They have also managed to secure government funding which has enabled them to complete actions within our four-year strategy, well ahead of schedule.

“This will ensure that we have move-on accommodation and support in place to help prevent people returning to homelessness.

“The team are already working with existing hostels and the winter night shelter, which is now operating as a hostel due to Covid restrictions, to ensure we have robust referral and triage procedures in place to cope with any increase in rough sleeping over the coming winter months.

“We are aware that capacity will be reduced in some places due to the need for self-contained rooms under the Covid-19 regulations, so we have in place 14 welfare cabins which provide warm, dry, safe and secure short-term accommodation in King’s Lynn while longer-term or supported accommodation can be found.”

The team will continue to work with Freebridge Housing who has also provided support by enabling empty properties to be matched with homeless people.

Mr Lawrence added: “The aim of our strategy is to eradicate homelessness and rough sleeping.

“The progress made this year, securing funding and working with our partners, has been impressive and I want to thank all our partners for supporting these efforts.

“We have already achieved just over two-thirds of the strategy in the first year since its launch, which means many more people will be supported with accommodation, advice and assistance, helping them back into long term accommodation and off the streets. We still have a way to go, but it is reassuring to note that we have been able to secure move-on and longer-term accommodation by successfully bidding for Government funding.”

“This will really help take the pressure off emergency accommodation.We need to continue to work with our partners and Norfolk County Council to tackle the issue of how appropriate housing and support will be provided for homeless and vulnerable households in the long term.”

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todayDecember 19, 2020