A new 2 year-long project has been launched on the Isle of Wight aimed at supporting rough sleepers with complex needs.

The scheme is run by the homeless charity Two Saints and aims to help people get off the streets, rebuild their lives and move into a house they can call their home.

The Housing First model uses a property as a starting point, rather than the end goal and allows people experiencing homelessness to get continuous support for their needs once they are housed.

The Isle of Wight Council has partnered up with Two Saints and secured a grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which will contribute towards the project.

Initially, the project will work with a small number of individuals, but going forward it plans to deliver all homelessness services based on an accommodation first principle.

To ensure the successful implementation of the service, Two Saints will be working in partnership with other registered housing associations and stakeholders on the Island.

All referrals to the service will go through the council’s Housing Options team.

 

Isle of Wight Radio’s Iona Stewart-Richardson has been speaking to the team behind the project.

 

Jamie Brenchley, the council’s service manager for housing needs and homelessness, said:

“Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals experiencing homelessness. The scheme is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a safe place to live in order to address other issues in their lives.”

In Europe, such projects have been successful at ending homelessness for at least eight out of ten people . This is compared to hostel-based accommodation which has resulted in between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of users with complex needs leaving, or ejected, before their homelessness is resolved.

Councillor Clare Mosdell, the council’s Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said:

“The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions as it is for anyone. Housing is provided first and then supports are provided, including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections.”

Initially, the project will work with a small number of individuals, however, going forward the council plans to deliver all homelessness services based on an accommodation first principle.

Speaking about the scheme, James McDermott, regional director of Two Saints, said:

“Housing First offers secure, long-term accommodation with intensive support to individuals who have complex needs and have experienced chronic, recurrent homelessness. The Housing First model starts with the principle that ‘people have a right to a home. We are pleased we are expanding our service to the Island in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council. “

James McDermott went on to say:

“Two Saints has been successfully delivering Housing First services since 2014 and currently provide the service in Berkshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and Test Valley.”