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Five year contract awarded to BCHA to provide accommodation and support for people who are homeless and rough sleeping in South Somerset

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South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has awarded BCHA a five-year contract to ensure continuing services to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping across the area.

SSDC’s housing service works in partnership with multi agency teams to provide hostel accommodation and to support proactive work through a rough sleeper outreach team.

The new five-year contract starts in April 2020 and will see BCHA responsible for delivering:

  • A 30-bed hostel in Yeovil
  • A minimum of 10 emergency beds
  • And a rough sleeper outreach service

These resources ensure people receive support tailored to their individual needs and the opportunity to start building a better life for themselves.

BCHA was founded over 50 years ago and supports thousands of people a year through its housing, specialist accommodation, training programmes and health and wellbeing advice.

Martin Hancock, Chief Executive of BCHA, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this contract which will enable our expert teams to ensure people experiencing homelessness in South Somerset are helped off the streets and have access to supported accommodation and new skills opportunities.”

Councillor Val Keitch, Leader of SSDC and portfolio holder for Housing, said: “We have been very fortunate to work with Home Group for the past six years who have delivered an excellent service. We are grateful to their staff for supporting customers, helping them address issues in their lives and supporting them to find accommodation.

“Everybody deserves a safe roof over their head and tackling homelessness and rough sleeping are top priorities for this council; we are very pleased to be working in the future with BCHA to deliver these vital services to vulnerable people in South Somerset.”

Find out more about how SSDC is helping those who are homeless for life and not just for one night in our news article released in December.

What should I do if I see someone sleeping rough?

Members of the public can report anyone who they see rough sleeping by using the StreetLink website – www.streetlink.org.uk.

StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with local services that can support them.

If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen rough sleeping, you can use the website to send an alert to StreetLink. The details you provide are sent to SSDC who then act upon the information received. If the person you are concerned about is under 18, please do not contact StreetLink but instead call the police.

I want to help someone who is homeless – how can I?

There are many, many ways that you can help someone who is homeless. The Council offers this advice on some of the ways that you can help:

  • If you want to provide immediate help, buy them a hot drink or a sandwich rather than giving money. We know people want to be generous - and we would never want to stop anyone trying to make a difference - but from our experience, the money donated can often be spent on enabling a negative lifestyle.
  • Any unwanted clothes that you have, please donate them to charity shops. Providing clothes direct to anyone who is rough sleeping can result in clothes not being used and ending up in landfill. Remember, those who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of sleeping rough will not have anywhere to store clothes so will get clothes from places such as charity shops as and when they are needed.
  • Every Christmas, there is always a shoebox appeal. Shoeboxes containing socks, gloves, hats and toiletries sweets, chocolate will be distributed by SSDC when needed to genuinely homeless people.
  • We’d also encourage people to be environmentally friendly. Why not offer to wash a sleeping bag rather than provide a new one? Old ones remain out of landfill that way but you have still helped and offered your support. Earlier this year, officers from SSDC visited Glastonbury Festival and collected many leftover sleeping bags which staff voluntarily wash and prepare for those in need, so we are currently able to provide these type of provisions to the homeless and rough sleepers.
  • “You can donate used but clean, good condition sleeping bags to any SSDC office we will make sure they are given to people accessing the emergency hostel beds.
  • “You can also donate non-perishable food to the Lords larder which is run from the Gateway Church, Addlewell Lane in Yeovil.”

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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