In today’s society I like many others find it difficult to comprehend why homelessness has reached such a crisis with some 8,000 people in the UK now considered homeless (taken from a report by homeless charity Crisis UK). The UK Government recently published a nationwide strategy in a bid to end homelessness by 2027. Albeit it’s great that we’re now addressing this widespread issue. At The Foxton Centre we have been dealing with homelessness in the community for the last 49 years. We take a look at what the new government strategy means and how this will affect services for the homeless in the future.
Highlighting the importance of preventing rough sleeping from happening the UK government plans toachieve this by introducing interventions beforehand, and they are hopeful that this type of approach will rapidly re-house those who end up having to face life on the streets.
Funding will also be available for new rough sleeping outreach specialists and it will also address the issue of migrants. The new strategy acknowledges that migrants experience additional barriers to getting the support. At The Foxton Centre we’ve experience of dealing with homeless migrants therefore we believe that this additional support will help to resolve their immigration status and lead to more efficient ways of dealing with this group of individuals.
At The Foxton Centre we certainly feel like we’ve seen it all working on the streets of Preston. We know that every single person living on the streets of Britain today will have a different reason for being there and that the ‘one size fits all’ approach has certainly expired. The new government strategy recognises this too and therefore pledges further support for local areas. It also takes steps to address wider policies and legislation around homelessness and rough sleeping.
However, some of what they are proposing is not necessarily new and we at The Foxton Centre have been ahead of the curve for some time. In fact, our Housing First Scheme was one of the first of its kind. Working closely with Preston City Council and MITEC, a property management company we have been developing this project for over the last two years.
Housing First has been designed to provide open-ended support to long-term and recurrently homeless people within the Preston community who have high support needs. Unlike many homelessness services, this scheme provides long term support to people with on-going needs. We know that this is what is needed in our local area and that unfortunately a quick fix approach just won’t work.
Often people that find themselves homeless are suffering from a string of ongoing issues, from alcohol and drugs abuse to severe mental health issues, poor health and poverty. It’s sometimes hard to know where to start. The Foxton Centre’s Housing First Scheme addresses all these issues together. Our support staff work with the service users to determine their immediate needs so that they can offer health and support referrals. We also help our residents to access housing and benefits.
We find that these service users are often socially marginalised, stigmatised and they’ve usually received a lack of social support and community integration. We know that they are likely to be unemployed and in some cases they will have a history of contact with the criminal justice system.
We have a client-focused approach at The Foxton Centre, we allow our service users to exercise choice and we allow them to take control of their lives. This is a lot for some of our users to comprehend and that’s why we support them on this journey, through guidance and counselling sessions. We don’t expect our residents to stop drinking or using drugs in return for accessing or remaining in housing. Of course that’s what we want to achieve but we don’t push it as a must. Generally, this happens over time as part of their ongoing journey.
We also provide housing immediately, or very rapidly and we don’t require our service users to be ‘housing ready’ before they are offered a home. We know that it takes time to adjust from life as a rough sleeper. At The Foxton Centre we operate within a proven harm reduction framework. Our ongoing research evidence from North America and Europe has proven widespread success of a Housing First approach.
Our Housing First Scheme is just one of the ways we support the community of Preston. The Foxton are built into the roots of the local area delivering a critical service to individuals especially for those on the margins of society. In 2019 we mark 50 years of The Foxton Centre and with the support of local communities, individuals and business we will continue to provide our services to the local area for many years to come.
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If you’d like to take part in the Foxton@50 campaign go to https://www.thefoxtoncentre.co.uk/50th-anniversary to find out how you can get involved.
To make a donation go to https://www.thefoxtoncentre.co.uk/donate/money we welcome monetary donations as well as good quality clothing, toiletries and long-life food parcels. By supporting The Foxton Centre your helping to make a difference to someone that’s less fortunate than yourself. This has the potential to change someone’s life.
CEO, The Foxton Centre