Shelter and Crisis today launched Millennium Plus, the first initiative of its kind, which will combine providing hostel beds for street homeless people with housing advice and advocacy in a bid to get more people off the streets across the country.
In the short term, Shelter and Crisis will work with the government's Rough Sleepers Unit to ensure no-one sleeps out at the turn of the new century. Millennium Plus will support the government's target to reduce street homelessness by two thirds by 2002.
The charities are calling on all hostels, housing providers and faith and community groups to make as many beds available as they can to ensure that no-one sleeps on the streets at this time.
The charities will be running pilot initiatives in 13 towns and cities across the country. Advice workers will carry out needs assessments for street homeless people in these areas and provide care plans.
The Millennium Plus initiative, which runs over the millennium period, is being funded by the government's Rough Sleepers Unit. Shelter's work on the Millennium Plus project is supported by the Nescafé Getting Together To Help initiative, as part of a new two-year partnership.
Shaks Gosh, Crisis chief executive, said: 'We have set ourselves a tough challenge but we believe that it will be possible that no-one is forced to sleep on the streets at the turn of the new century. We then want to extend our reach to find long-term solutions for street homelessness.'
Chris Holmes, director of Shelter, said: 'Millennium Plus is breaking vital new ground by not only aiming to give all street homeless people a bed over the millennium but also to move people off the streets for good. This involves tackling complex needs stemming from family breakdown, domestic violence or drug and alcohol problems.
'We will provide advice and advocacy at hostels and attempt to find solutions that go beyond just finding someone a place to stay but ensuring a person has support to maintain their new home.'
Groups interested in setting up an emergency hostel over the millennium can contact Shelter for a free Millennium Plus manual on 0171 336 6482 or from the websites www.shelter.org.uk or www.crisis.org.uk.
Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people - those with no legal right to housing. We take effective, practical action to relieve the poverty and distress of homeless people and help them to move towards a secure, sustainable home.
Shelter is a campaigning organisation which last year worked with over 118,000 homeless or badly housed people and runs Shelterline, the UK's free, 24-hour, national housing advice line on 0808 800 4444.
The government's Rough Sleepers Unit is attached to the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions.
5. Nescafé Getting Together to Help is a£1m partnership with four charities: Kids Clubs' Network, Shelter, Macmillan Cancer Relief and the British Red Cross, which aims to make a real difference to communities across the country. For more info. contact Clare Griffin on 01494 434339.
Street Homelessness: The facts
At least 2,500 people sleep out on the streets of Britain on any one night - around 2,000 of these are in England (Shelter and Crisis estimate).
In London, at least 2,400 have experienced sleeping on the streets each year with 1,800 sleeping out for the first time. (Housing Services Agency, 1998)
Last year (1998), Shelter and Crisis each worked with around 20,000 people who had nowhere to sleep that night in England.
Around a quarter of people sleeping on the streets are between 18 and 25 years old and around 6% are over 60.
The main reason most people cite for their first experience of sleeping on the streets is family or relationship breakdown.
Around 30% of rough sleepers have been in local authority care.
Between 30 to 50% of street homeless people suffer from mental health problems and most became ill before becoming homeless.
10,000 people sleep rough over the course of a year.
Around 25 per cent of people sleeping rough are aged between 18 and 25 years.
The largest concentrations of people sleeping rough in England are found in Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford and Bristol.