New service launched to help homeless in Bedford

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Rough sleepers in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes are being offered help in getting their lives back on track thanks to a partnership between local councils.

As part of their commitment to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Councils are working in partnership to deliver an outreach service to rough sleepers.

The service, which launches on 26 June, works by providing a combination of outreach support and assessment hubs where people can go to access help.

The new outreach team will work with individuals to prevent or reduce the length of time spent on the streets, while in more complex cases mental health crisis workers will ensure more intensive support is provided.

It’s estimated that the service will work with around 700 people in the region over the next two years; targeting not only rough sleepers but also those at risk of becoming rough sleepers to prevent them moving on to the streets.

The service has been set up following a successful bid by Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Councils for grant funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The £623,000 funding received will enable this service to be provided for two years.

Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson said: “Homelessness is a national crisis and in Bedford we are tackling the problem head-on.

“This is the latest in a string of work the Council has done as part of our commitment to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, including the new Complex Needs Unit which is set to open later this year providing specialist accommodation and support for some of the most vulnerable.”

Councillor Colleen Atkins at Bedford Borough Council added: “This new service is good news as rough sleepers are amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable people in our society and require additional support to re-integrate into the community.

“It’s hoped this new service will ensure there is a cohesive pathway for people who are rough sleeping or at risk of doing so.”