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Ending rough sleeping:- Metro Mayors join forces to call for extension of Housing 1st

METRO Mayors for Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and West Midlands have joined forces to call for an extension of the Government's successful Housing 1st pilot scheme for tackling homelessness. Steve Rotheram, Andy Burnham and Andy Street all share the same ambition to end rough sleeping and believe that the 3 Housing 1st pilots in their areas have been making a significant contribution to achieving this. Figures show that 96% of those who benefited from the scheme had come straight off the streets, 25% before they were 18 years old.

The 3 Mayors spoke at a stakeholder event, that was held, on Wednesday, 28 July 2021, with more than 200 delegates from across the pilot areas, who were joined by Housing and Rough Sleeping Minister, Eddie Hughes MP. At the event they said they want the Government to extend funding for the pilots and for the Comprehensive Spending Review to include cross departmental sustainable funding to ensure people on the programmes are supported and don't want to risk a return to rough sleeping.

There are an estimated 1,018 people across the pilot programmes who will need support when the funding ends. A meeting of the cross party All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing 1st last week also backed calls for an extension of the pilots.

Traditional homeless services (and health and support services) do not work for many people who are rough sleeping with complex needs. That is why some individuals continue to sleep rough or move around the system. A person centred and trauma informed approach is a better way of supporting these individuals which is what Housing 1st offers through on going intensive support. This also means that the number of people more likely to stay in their homes and not end up back on the streets is considerably higher in Housing First programmes compared to other programmes and it represents value for money.

The 3 pilots have worked with 1,245 individuals. Of those, 812 people have been housed in secure tenancies with an 87% tenancy sustainment rate. 87 people have been supported into another home.

As well as providing a home, Housing 1st supports individuals with health issues and disabilities. 45% of people interviewed for the national evaluation of the pilots reported having difficulties with their mental health before the age of 16, with a further 33% between the ages of 16 and 25. 49% had a physical health issue and 74% had a dual diagnosis. 31% had a disability.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "There has been an alarming rise in homelessness over the past decade, as austerity stripped away many of the safety nets that some relied on. Through these Housing 1st pilots, we have collectively shown that there is a better, more humane way of treating people. Instead of looking at statistics or targets to be met, we treat people as human beings. Rather than cutting them adrift, we offer them wraparound support to address their complex issues. And, instead of temporary solutions, we're helping to break the homelessness cycle and change people's lives forever. Unfortunately, the future of these Housing 1st pilots in the country is unclear. I'm calling on Government to give Housing 1st sustainable, long term funding and to work with us to help roll the scheme out across the country."

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:- "When I 1st took office, Greater Manchester was struggling to cope with a growing homelessness crisis. Since then, a range of local policies I've introduced, and national policies have helped turn this around and Housing 1st is 1 of them. Housing 1st works and it works well. The success of our pilots speaks for themselves and that's why I want the Government to extend funding for the existing programmes and then provide sustainable funding to roll it out as a national policy as we work together to achieve our ambition to end rough sleeping."

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:- "We all know homelessness is the ultimate exclusion, and rough sleeping is at the sharpest end of that. Thankfully we've made real progress in tackling rough sleeping across the West Midlands in recent years thanks to some brilliant collaborative work, but there is still so much more to be done. 1 of the keys to our success so far has been Housing 1st, which gives some of the most challenged people in society safety and security, and the belief that change is possible. By combining a home with skilled intensive support for as long as is needed, the programme has made a real difference to hundreds of people's lives in the West Midlands. Speaking to people with the lived experience, it is clear they have put their trust in our programme. I'm therefore extremely keen that the Housing 1st model continues with Government support, and we honour that trust placed in us by society's most vulnerable."

Give a hog a home!

AS part of its pledge to create more wildlife friendly spaces, Merseyside developer Barratt Homes has teamed up with a local Primary School to create hedgehog awareness posters at its Pinewood Park development. The homebuilder hosted a competition at Redgate Primary School to raise awareness in the area of the importance of hedgehogs to the ecosystem and how residents can play their part in looking after local hogs. The winners received 3 hedgehog homes and food for taking part so that they can watch nature thrive for themselves, and they also received vouchers for their hard work. The competition asked School children to design posters, with the colourful winning entries now being displayed around the Liverpool Road development.  The top tips included on the poster were supplied by Hedgehog Street, a joint campaign between People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), and included ways people can create a safe space for hedgehogs to thrive. Barratt Homes recently invited the winning pupils to the development to see their posters in place. Winners Emilia Bird, Freya Millhouse, and Olivia Thurgeson, all in Year 2, were delighted to see their designs on the streets of the development and hope that they will catch the attention of local passers by.

Helen Gambon, Deputy Headteacher at Redgate Primary School, said:- "We are delighted to be part of such a worthwhile campaign. We have recently been reading:- 'The Hodgeheg' by Dick King Smith, so the children are acutely aware of the need to protect these special, little animals."

Hedgehogs were recently placed on the red list for British Mammals in 2020, this is a recognition of the vulnerable status of the species.

Michaela Lancaster, Sales Director at Barratt Homes Manchester said:- "It's extremely important to us when building new communities that we're also creating a space for wildlife to thrive. We teamed up with the fantastic team at Hedgehog Street to create some simple tips that residents can follow and enlisted the help of Redgate Primary School to help us make these colourful and eye catching. We hope this competition has not only inspired the children taking part, but also helped our new residents at Pinewood Park to see how following these tips can make a massive difference to local hedgehogs."

Barratt Homes has been partnered with the RSPB since 2014 and is committed to supporting nature and wildlife at its developments in Merseyside. The homebuilder is currently supporting a new wildlife project by the RSPB, Nature on Your Doorstep, which is designed to inspire and advise everyone on how to turn their outdoor spaces into havens for wildlife.  Hedgehog Street currently has over 95,000 Hedgehog Champions across the UK who have pledged to make their gardens hedgehog havens. To become a Hedgehog Champion or for more information on supporting hedgehogs, visit:- HedgeHogStreet.Org.  To find out more on Barratt Homes visit:- BarrattHomes.Co.UK or call:- 03333558474.

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