New scheme aims to tackle homelessness in Sunderland

South Tyneside Councillor Allan West, Sunderland City Councillor Graeme Miller and Changing Lives Helen Aitchison.
South Tyneside Councillor Allan West, Sunderland City Councillor Graeme Miller and Changing Lives Helen Aitchison.

A new approach to halt homelessness and rough sleeping on the streets of Sunderland has been launched.

Sunderland and South Tyneside councils have teamed up to successfully bid for support from the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Homelessness Prevention Fund.

We will put even greater focus on prevention and use our collaborative approach with our partners to help identify people’s individual, immediate housing and accommodation needs and then decide how best to work together to provide for them.

Councillor Graeme Miller

The external funding of £376,000 over the next two years will be used to help and support those people temporarily without a home who may face having to sleep rough as a result.

Part of that will be outreach work delivered through leading national homelessness charity Changing Lives, from its Sunderland base at the Old Orphanage Buildings in the East End.

Coun Graeme Miller, Sunderland City Council cabinet member for health, housing, and adult services, said: “Sunderland for many years now has been a high performing authority with regards to its approach to preventing homelessness.

“That said, it is important that we adapt to the changing policy environment we are operating in and with this in mind we have reviewed and refreshed our approach to homelessness.

“We are introducing a Housing First approach, which is based on the fundamental principle of everyone having a right to a home; as we believe this will provide better outcomes for people faced with or experiencing homelessness.

“We will put even greater focus on prevention and use our collaborative approach with our partners to help identify people’s individual, immediate housing and accommodation needs and then decide how best to work together to provide for them.

“Our successful bid to the DCLG for the additional funding to enable us to do that even more effectively , was based on the successful work already going on in Sunderland and South Tyneside to provide specialist housing support to those people who live in our communities but don’t have a home of their own for whatever reason.”

Chief executive of Changing Lives, Stephen Bell, said: “We are delighted to be delivering this service with our partners in the local authority.

“The funding represents an innovative partnership across authorities which provide vital support to the homeless.

“Credit to Sunderland and South Tyneside for getting together and supporting a pioneering way of housing rough sleepers through our partnership model of ‘housing first’ for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Members of both council’s homelessness teams were invited to address a cross-party event hosted by Homeless Link at the House of Lords to promote the various agencies involved in the homelessness sector across the country and launch a new supported housing strategy.

Councillor Miller added: “The policy and practice of the homelessness and supported housing sector helps transform the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society, and this sector will continue to lead on innovative initiatives and campaign for policy changes that have a lasting impact.”