Housing initiatives that have helped hundreds of individuals and households at risk of homelessness in North Devon are being put forward as entries into national council awards.
North Devon Council are submitting two entries to the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards, in hopes of having their efforts recognised nationally.
The council is entering the ‘Team of the Year’ category for the Safe Sleep project, an initiative run in collaboration with adult social services, drug and alcohol treatment services, the police and Freedom County Alliance, a Barnstaple-based charity that supports vulnerable and marginalised people. The collaborative approach of the council’s housing team gave more than 100 rough sleepers a safe place to stay during the winter months and helped more than a third of those who used the service into permanent accommodation.
The second category the council has entered is for’Housing Initiative’, with their project to establish a £1.2 million capital programme to buy property for temporary accommodation. The council now owns eight properties and the initiative has helped 634 households in its first year, with those in housing crisis being provided with better quality accommodation that is more suitable for their needs than bed and breakfast facilities. The council has also secured a saving in the process, which can then be invested back into the housing service.
North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Councillor Nicola Topham says: “I am delighted that our housing team has been able to make some incredibly positive changes to the service to the benefit of those in housing need across our district. The Safe Sleep initiative literally changed lives, providing shelter, food and support to vulnerable, homeless people over the winter months. The service aimed to enable people in crisis to establish and maintain relationships with a range of welfare professionals, creating an environment where they are able to access the necessary assistance to reintegrate with the community and find homes. This is something the team can be extremely proud of. Buying properties as temporary accommodation benefits individuals and families in housing crisis because it means they don’t have to be placed in hotels and B&B’s, which is unsettling and distressing. It has also resulted in greater efficiencies and value for money for the council, which can be reinvested to improve the service even further. Whether our efforts are recognised with an award or not, we are very proud of what we have achieved and the impact it has had on homeless people in our district.”
Shortlisting for the LGC awards will take place in November, with live judging for those shortlisted in the new year. The awards ceremony will take place in London in March 2020. If you believe you are at risk of becoming homeless, get in touch with the council as soon as you can on 01271 388870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the council’s housing services is available online at www.northdevon.gov.uk/housing.