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200 LONDON ROUGH SLEEPERS TO BE HELPED THROUGH NEW INITIATIVE

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Employment minister Andrew Smith has announced a new initiative ...
Employment minister Andrew Smith has announced a new initiative

to help 200 people sleeping rough in London take their first steps

towards independence.

This initiative will take the form of a pilot, based in London.

The London Rough Sleepers Unit will monitor the pilot and develop a

programme of support to meet the challenge set out in the Social

Exclusion Report to reduce rough sleeping in London by two-thirds, by

2002.

The minister was visiting the Aldgate Advice Caf, - a drop in centre

for rough sleepers and the Outlook Project Programme Centre, in King's

Cross - which helps meet the jobsearch needs of homeless people.

Mr Smith said:

'This government is committed to tackling social exclusion. In the

past, there has been an attitude of offering support to those who

could be helped quickly. Meanwhile, we were facing a growth of

people who were socially excluded; people without homes - and without

the resources to help address their long-term needs. We can change

this by giving people the means to move out of this excluded group

and help them take their first steps towards independence.'

'The pilot I am launching today will feature three different strands

of support, to be delivered by three leading voluntary sector

agencies - St Botolph's, St Mungo's and Training for Life. These

strands are:

* a programme of initial training to develop basic skills,

independent living skills, social and interpersonal skills, work

habits, self-awareness and decision making;

* professional mentoring to provide ongoing support for rough

sleepers; and specially trained peer mentors, who have previously

slept rough, will work with rough sleepers.

Mr Smith met representatives from the three volunteer groups and was

given a tour of the Advice Caf, by St Botolph,s Education & Training

Manager Simon Sebaggala.

Mr Sebaggala said:

'This pilot represents a powerful opportunity to target hard-to-reach

users with a history of rough sleeping who have been excluded from

current provision. We will use this opportunity to provide initial

vocational training that enables individuals to develop the skills

and awareness that are fundamental to success in education, training

and employment.'

Mr Smith emphasised the importance of support networks, and the need

for rough sleepers to have someone to talk to who can relate to their

experiences and understand their needs. He said:

'The support from mentors who have previously slept rough is an

important element of the programme. These people have had a

comparable life experience, and appreciate the difficulties a rough

sleeper faces. Their aim is to offer support, understanding and a

positive role model to motivate the rough sleeper to take control of

the lives.'

On the mentoring programme, Sue Hanshaw from St Mungo's said:

'Mentors provide vital support for rough sleepers. They offer help

and advice which can prove invaluable during the transition from

sleeping rough to a more stable lifestyle. The mentoring relationship

can make a real difference here as this is when rough sleepers are

prone to revert to their street life.'

At the Outlook Project in King's Cross the Minster formally opened the

centre and met some of the participants and people involved in

running the project.

Richard Jackson, chief executive of Camden Jobtrain which delivers

the programme said:

'The Outlook Project will be a beacon of opportunity for homeless

people who need real support, guidance and encouragement to get on

the right track towards a job and a brighter future. Outlook will

genuinely gear the help that people receive, to meeting their own

individual and very often complex needs. This programme will benefit

a large number of disadvantaged people by helping them to become

fully involved in society, and indeed, contributing to the economy.'

Mr Smith unveiled a plaque to mark the formal opening of the project.

He said:

'The Outlook Project will play an important role in addressing the

issue of homelessness amongst unemployed people. This centre is

designed to provide an environment in which homeless people can

access support, training and jobsearch facilities; the aim is to

empower people by addressing both social and work skills so that

eventually they can have the confidence and ability to lead a secure

and independent life'.

Housing minister Hilary Armstrong said:

'This project will give rough sleepers the chance of a brighter

future by helping them develop the skills they need to build more

settled and independent lives away from the streets.

'Our new London Rough Sleepers Unit is spearheading the 'joined

up' approach to tackling the employment, training, education,

healthcare and housing needs of rough sleepers in the capital. We

will look carefully at the results of this pilot to plan the unit's

future strategy.'

NOTES

1. The Social Exclusion Report on Rough Sleepers, published in July

1998 is available from The Stationery Office Limited, Tel 0345 02 34

74.

2. The Rough Sleepers pilot has been developed by the DfEE, DETR and

the new London Rough Sleepers Unit. The new Unit took overall

responsibility for rough sleepers in London from April 1999;

employment support will be handed over in April 2000.

3. The pilot is to provide for people over 25 who are, or have

recently been, sleeping rough. Those already in hostels or other

temporary accommodation, who have recently been sleeping rough and

have made some progress towards stability but need additional support

to move towards work, are included in the client group.

4. A high proportion of the client group have mental health

problems, or are drug or alcohol abusers. Many were in care as

children, or have been in prison. They present a complex package of

needs and problems which the pilot will aim to address before they

can move into a more stable lifestyle.

5. The pilot is designed to provide regular reports on progress

which will be fed to the London Rough Sleepers Unit to inform the

development of the unit's strategy for employment for rough sleepers.

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