EXTRA provisions were handed out to Southampton’s homeless during the city’s periods of freezing and then blistering weather.
From blankets to sun screen, city council officers made sure rough sleepers were protected from the elements that hit the county over the past six months.
Working with charities Two Saints, the Society of St James and the Salvation Army during the winter months – which saw temperatures plunge to -2°C – extra beds were put on to get as many people indoors as they could.
These additional bed spaces were first offered in November and stayed in place for the duration of the bad winter weather, ending in the middle of March.
This enabled an extra 143 people to be housed – although not all of these were rough sleepers. The council says 58 of these are now living in ‘stable housing conditions’.
At the end of last year, the council noted there were around 60 people sleeping rough in the city.
A spokesperson for the authority said the council puts aside £15,000 a year to provide additional beds in hostels over the winter period. This is paid for through homelessness grants funds.
They added: “The council would like to thank the public who reported people who were homeless and rough sleeping during the period of heavy snow, and also the support providers who helped with additional accommodation and conducted welfare checks throughout the harsh weather.”
The council’s Street Homeless Prevention Team were also on hand to give out water, sun cream and advice during the periods of hot weather, which saw the city bake in mid 20°C heat.
Washing and laundry facilities as well as medical care is available year round at the day centre in Cranbury Avenue, which is run by Two Saints.
Paul Juan, service director for adults, housing and communities at the council, said: “There is an ongoing national increase in the number of people becoming homeless and rough sleeping.
“At a local level we’ve seen an unprecedented growth in the number of people we’re engaging with, offering advice, support and guidance.
“We’re working with partner organisations to provide a joined up approach to tackling the issue, and new incentives being implemented by the Homeless Vulnerable Adult Support Team are starting to make a real difference to those who need help and support.”
Source : DailyEcho