Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has been awarded £565,500 in funding as part of the UK Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme to support accommodation for rough sleepers.

The Next Steps Accommodation Programme assists former rough sleepers and those brought into emergency accommodation in response to COVID-19 to move into settled housing. As the pandemic remains a risk, its essential that people, especially those who are at increased risk of illness, are kept safe.

MBC was invited by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to engage with the next stage of its COVID-19 Rough Sleeping response, after 15,000 vulnerable people were housed across the country in hotels and other forms of emergency accommodation.

The Council’s Outreach team supports rough sleepers and tries to ensure that as few people as possible return to the streets following an initial period of accommodation.

John Littlemore, MBC Head of Housing and Community Services, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding and to be part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.

“This year has seen just how important it is for us to support our communities, particularly those who may have complex issues and need different services to help them lead healthier, more productive lives.

“The MBC Outreach Team supports those in need to access benefits or employment, GP’s and healthcare, treatment and support for substance misuse and access to mental health services, this funding will help us continue and expand that work.”

The work of the Outreach Team was recognised by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping, Kelly Tolhurst MP, who highlighted Maidstone as one of three local authorities across the country who are at “the cornerstone of our work to tackle rough sleeping”.” Since it was launched in 2018, the team has reduced rough sleeping in Maidstone by over 90%.  It continues to help many who need support to live in their own accommodation an approach that has seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour and other associated issues and been recognised by partner agencies, including the police.

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