25 September 2020

SWT has been awarded Government funding to continue providing interim accommodation for rough sleepers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Council has secured £167,000 from the MHCLG ‘Next Steps Accommodation Programme’ to cover the costs of keeping the multi-agency initiative going in 2020/21.

SWT and its partners have been providing self-contained accommodation at the Canonsgrove halls of residence in Trull for rough sleepers and tenants of homeless hostels who find it difficult to self-isolate and practice social distancing.

The site owned by Bridgwater and Taunton College, is being managed by The YMCA Dulverton Group who have also made their own Beach Hotel in Minehead available for rough sleepers in West Somerset.

Leader of SWT, Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, said: “Canonsgrove has shown great multi-partnership working led by SWT with huge support from the YMCA Dulverton Group. A whole range of organisations have been working with us giving their time and support to make this possible including Raft, the Salvation Army, Open Door, Turning Point, Arc and many statutory bodies.

“This project is unique nationally and we have been encouraged by its success. Not only have we been able to provide three meals a day and support services tailored to the needs of our vulnerable tenants but we have been able to help many gain new independence in their own accommodation.

“We welcome this financial support from central Government to build on our work to date and the opportunity it gives to engage with the community of Trull as we move forward.”

The funding includes £30k Transitional Support to fund officers who are able to provide support to tenants moving on from temporary accommodation; and £20k for SWT to provide financial assistance where required to enable private landlords to accommodate lower risk clients.

It will also allow time for SWT to undertake an options appraisal to identify a sustainable longer-term accommodation solution for rough sleepers in the area.

Jonica Walkinshaw of YMCA Dulverton Group, said: “YMCA Dulverton Group are pleased that the funding awarded will enable the vital work at Canonsgrove to be able to continue into the next year.

“Through working very closely with partners and with the direct delivery of many supportive services, this has made fundamental positive change to the individuals we work alongside.

“As we head into the winter months, our focus is still firmly on keeping people safe and enabling individuals to move on into safe and sustainable independent accommodation.

“We believe that everyone should have an opportunity to feel that they belong, be able to contribute and in turn they will thrive, Canonsgrove allows the foundation for this to begin.”

More information on the Next Steps funding can be found here.