Oxford City Council have announced a new provision designed to tackle homelessness. The scheme, known as the ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ service, will provide beds for 12 people experiencing homelessness for up to 7 nights.
The hub will also offer thorough assessments to the users, linking them with support services and suitable housing. It is aimed specifically at those who are newly homeless, in the hopes that providing early support will prevent chronic homelessness.
Until the council has established its permanent hub at 1 Floyds Row in January, ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ will be operating out of Simon House.
Beds will also be made available for 15 people at a new winter shelter by the beginning of November, which will be open to anyone in need, regardless of local connections.
Both services will be operated by St. Mungo’s, one of the largest providers of outreach services in the country.
Expert assessment and reconnection workers will help people to develop personal housing plans and get the support they need from other services to move quickly into more sustainable accommodation.”
Statistics from Oxford City Council esti- mated that 51 people were sleeping rough in September 2019, a 42% increase from September 2018. Over a quarter of those surveyed had been homeless for less than six months or were newly verified by the count.
New action on homelessness is part of the Rough Sleeping Strategy, a recent effort launched by the government in order to alleviate Britain’s homelessness problem. Oxford City Council is one of 42 early adopters who were allocated funding for 2019/2020.
Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “It takes more than a roof to end homelessness and Somewhere Safe to Stay is the first stage in our plans to transform services for people experiencing homelessness in Oxfordshire.”
She added: “I’m really pleased that St Mungo’s are operating the new service and the winterlong shelter available to anyone experiencing homelessness will open in early November. Their experience of running this type new assessment service in London and the South of England has seen four fifths of people leaving the streets behind for good.
“We believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and the best way to help someone experiencing rough sleeping is to get them to come inside and find the support they need to rebuild their lives.
“This fundamental change to front end homelessness services and winter accommodation will help us to achieve this and be a catalyst for change across the wider system.”
Oxford City Council is involved in numerous new initiatives to tackle homelessness, including the Oxford Homeless Movement, which launched earlier this month and is a partnership between numerous homelessness organisations in the city.