St Mungo’s to expand vital services for rough sleepers and homeless couples in Reading

More support will soon be available to people sleeping rough and couples who are homeless in Reading, thanks to leading homelessness charity, St Mungo’s and Reading Borough Council.

The new ‘Housing First and Complex Couples Move on Support’ service will help couples who have experienced homelessness and struggled to stay in long term accommodation, find and keep a home, together.

It is the first time that a dedicated couple’s service has been run in the town.

St Mungo’s will also be expanding its outreach service in the town which supports people sleeping rough, and hope to see the number of people living on the streets fall as a result.

Both services, run in partnership with the Council, will operate for three years from late 2022 to 2025.

Helen Denyer, Regional Director for St Mungo’s, said:

“We are really pleased we will be providing these important services, particularly as the cost of living crisis is putting more people in a vulnerable position and at risk of potential homelessness.

“It is especially exciting for us to be running this innovative couple’s Housing First service, alongside support for vulnerable individuals. Our aim is to help people recover from homelessness and find a stable place to live and call home, and it is only right that couples who are suitable for Housing First and want to live together have suitable accommodation available.

“And to be able to extend our vital outreach provision is an extremely positive step towards ending homelessness in Reading. Our specialist teams are out every day right where they are needed, helping to make every night someone’s last on the streets. The partnership with Reading Council means we can continue doing this for years to come, helping more people move off the streets for good.”

St Mungo’s has been a leading homelessness service provider in Reading for many years, operating street outreach support as well as supported accommodation, the pioneering modular homes at Caversham Road and a specialist women’s service, the Nova Project.

Cllr Ellie Emberson, Lead Member for Housing at Reading Borough Council, said:

“Reading Council has a proven track record of supporting homelessness residents in the town. We know a real difference can be made with a partnership approach and have effectively worked alongside our charity partner St Mungo’s for a number of years. We’re pleased to extend our ongoing support of homelessness projects in the Borough and specifically, working with St Mungo’s to help support those most in need, as we have done already with initiatives such as the Caversham Road modular homes project which provides 40 former rough sleepers with their own home alongside round the clock support provided by St Mungo’s.”

The expanded Street Population Outreach Team (SPOT) will provide more flexible support and the addition of an ‘in-reach’ function for clients after they have successfully moved away from the streets to prevent recurring episodes of rough sleeping.

There will also be more emphasis on preventing homelessness in the first instance, with tenancy support for vulnerable people and those at risk of losing their home.

The Housing First service will follow the same model that has been successfully implemented in other regions across England, including London, Oxford, Brighton and Bournemouth, which St Mungo’s has been at the forefront of.

Housing First provides a tenancy first, followed by intensive and tailored support as an effective long-term solution for people recovering from homelessness. The specialist focus on support for couples is an innovative approach being taken in Reading.

The new services mark a further move toward homelessness prevention and recovery as opposed to late-stage intervention, a key part of Reading Borough Council’s Preventing Homelessness Strategy.

Funding for these services has come from the UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) as part of the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) funding stream awarded to local councils.

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