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TACKLING HOMELESSNESS: JOINT WORKING HIGHLIGHTED AS KEY

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The most vulnerable street homeless people will continue to be trapped on the streets unless voluntary and statutor...
The most vulnerable street homeless people will continue to be trapped on the streets unless voluntary and statutory agencies work more effectively together, Crisis and Shelter warned today. The warning came as the charities launched the final report* of their three-year Millennium Plus initiative, which has provided advice and support to 3,850 homeless people since it was launched in 1999.

In the report, Millennium Plus: A Good Practice Model for Tackling Street Homelessness, the charities highlight the importance of tackling the problems faced by vulnerable homeless people caught in a trap between the street and hostels. Problems such as drug and alcohol dependency must be solved to ensure they leave the streets for good and prevent them from becoming homeless again. The charities say it is vital that services such as health, probation, social services, drug and alcohol agencies work together to take this forward and find a lasting solution to street homelessness.

Additionally, they point to the recently introduced Homelessness Act, which requires local authorities to publish strategies to tackle and prevent homelessness, as the ideal opportunity to adopt the Millennium Plus model.

Christine Parrish, Shelter's director of housing services, said: 'It is vital that all agencies - both government and voluntary - recognise the importance of working together to tackle the problems faced by the most vulnerable street homeless people. Too many times homeless people have fallen through the nets provided by various agencies and services and have ended up back on the streets because there hasn't been a co-ordinated response.

'Millennium Plus provides the very model needed to help tackle long-term street homelessness and to prevent people becoming homeless again. We would urge the government and local authorities to adopt Millennium Plus as a best practice model.'

During the final year of Millennium Plus, 1,399 people were given advice and support at the 20 WinterWatch projects across England. Data collected reveals 28% of those seen had alcohol problems, 30 per cent had drug dependency problems and 20 per cent suffered mental health problems.(1)

Shaks Ghosh, Crisis chief executive, said: 'The most entrenched homeless people need tailor made solutions to help them change their lives. Support for their range of problems needs to be available in one place with each homeless person having a dedicated professional to guide them through the process. Millennium Plus has enabled thousands of homeless people to benefit from this intensive help.'

NOTES

* A copy of the report can be download here.

1. Some clients had more than one problem. The analysis is based on people who used the WinterWatch projects which were open from December 2001 to March 2002. Millennium Plus: A Good Practice Model for Tackling Street Homelessness, summary of this analysis is available.

2. A breakdown of national statistics is attached.

3. Millennium Plus ran in 20 WinterWatch projects in: Barrow-In-Furness, Bath, Cambourne, Canterbury, Chelmsford, Doncaster, Farnham, Leicester, Rochester, Scarborough, Salisbury (two projects), St Albans, St Helens, Stoke on Trent, Tonbridge, Warrington, Watford, Woking and York.

National findings from Millennium Plus Year Three - 2001/2002

The final year of Millennium Plus saw a total of 1,399 people in 20 WinterWatch projects in England. Of these clients, 277 were given a comprehensive needs assessment at the projects. Ten of the projects had multi agency panels, which had 68 clients referred to them.

Data from the projects showed 1,233 (88 per cent) of clients were male. Fifty four per cent (756) of clients were aged 25-44, 24.4 per cent (342) of clients were aged 18-24 and 17.8 per cent (249) were aged 45-69.

Clients seeking help from the WinterWatch projects had a variety of problems.

Problems faced by clients**% of clientsNumber

Alcohol dependency28389

Drug dependency30423

Mental health problems20273

Physical health19266

Physical disability574

Main reason for homelessness (top five):

Reason for Homelessness% of clientsNumber

Relationship breakdown38531

Loss of home (eviction, repossession, tenancy breakdown)21286

Leaving prison9137

Financial circumstances345

Fleeing violence or harassment339

**Some clients had more than one problem.

* All data referred to in this report relates to the number of clients who visited the WinterWatch projects per year. Some clients may have visited more than once.

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