New service is changing the lives of homeless people in Hemel Hempstead

Rough sleepers across Dacorum have been receiving help from a new Hightown Housing Association outreach support service

Hightown have been chosen by Dacorum Borough Council to deliver proactive outreach services to prevent homelessness across the borough.

Daniel Howard (community engagement and recovery worker) and Sarsha Donnelly (rough sleeper outreach worker)

Daniel Howard (community engagement and recovery worker) and Sarsha Donnelly (rough sleeper outreach worker)

The outreach service, launched in November, is helping rough sleepers into night shelters, supported housing or permanent accommodation -the service has helped 18 people which includes referrals from other local statutory and voluntary services.

Dacorum Borough Council received £50,000 from the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative Fund for 2019-2020, to provide the outreach services.

This funding has been extended for 2020/21 and discussions are currently underway as to how additional local services will be delivered.

Dacorum Outreach Service responds to reports of rough sleeping and helps those who have been living on the streets by providing the support they need to find and stay in accommodation.

This includes helping those with drug or alcohol addiction issues to find local rehabilitation programmes or services and assisting those with mental health issues to find the help and support they need.

Natasha Beresford, Dacorum Borough Council's group manager for strategic housing, said: “We are committed to tackling homelessness in the borough.

"Our approach was endorsed in 2018 when we achieved the 10 local challenges set out by the National Practitioner Support Service gold standard, so I'm delighted that this grant funding will allow us to expand our activities at no cost to Dacorum’s Council Tax payers."

The service has recently helped a young couple who were sleeping in a service corridor in block of flats within Dacorum.

After receiving a call from a concerned resident, Sarsha Donnelly, who works as a rough sleeper outreach worker within the service, visited the flats.

Despite some missed appointments, she persevered and was eventually able to meet with the couple, she referred them to The Elms emergency accommodation in Hemel Hempstead and is in daily contact with them.

Daniel Howard also works within the service as a community engagement and recovery worker.

Both he and Sarsha will be out and about visiting local services including the job centre, DENS day centre and local businesses to provide proactive assistance to those who need it.

Amy Laurie, Hightown’s joint head of care and supported housing in Hertfordshire, said: “We are really pleased to see this outreach service launch in Dacorum, it’s already making a real difference to the people sleeping rough across the area.

"Being able to assist those who have been living on the streets for some time, often takes patience, dedication and co-ordination of lots of different services.

"We are delighted with the progress the team are making, they have got the service off to a great start!”

Cllr Margaret Griffiths, portfolio holder for housing at Dacorum Borough Council said she was proud of the achievements of the Strategic Housing team.

She said: “We recognise that the impact of losing a home can be far reaching, affecting amongst other things health, wellbeing, education and employment.

"The service is working closely with a range of local partner organisations to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping in Dacorum.”

To contact Dacorum Outreach Service, email: DB.Outreach@hightownha.org.uk or visit: www.hightownha.org.uk.