An intensive programme of work to help 120 of the most vulnerable homeless people across Lincolnshire has been launched.
ACTion Lincs, a county-wide partnership, has been set up to provide life-changing support and tackle some of the most complex homelessness cases in Lincolnshire.
Once accepted onto the long-term programme, support will be provided to the 120 individuals in any setting whether that is on the street, in prison, in hospital or someone’s home. Traditionally, support has been shorter term and hasn’t benefited from such integration between services.
As previously reported, the project has been awarded £1.3million of Social Impact Bond (SIB) funding from Central Government. It is one of only eight projects nationally to receive this funding and is the first SIB project to launch from this funding.
Delivery will be led by Charity P3, and is the result of a successful and innovative partnership involving Lincolnshire County Council, all seven district councils, Health, Addaction and Integrated Offender Management Teams (ARC).
The ACTion Lincs service will be tasked with achieving specific outcomes including:
• Helping each person to access and sustain their own accommodation;
• Access to both mental health and drug and alcohol treatment services, and support to help people sustain this where required;
• Help with accessing training, education and employment;
Michelle Howard, chairman of the Lincolnshire Homelessness Strategy Group, said: “We are really excited to be launching this innovative programme of work, which will really help to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Lincolnshire.
“DCLG’s Homelessness Prevention Programme has enabled us to work creatively across borders which we would not have achieved by adopting a traditional approach to tackling the issues.”
Lincolnshire has seen an increase in homelessness demand and rough sleeping. On top of this there has been a rise in the complexity of needs presented by some of the most vulnerable people and current service models are often unable to meet their needs.
Michelle explained that despite the best efforts, traditional methods of engagement were not meeting the needs of people and a new approach was needed.
Jonny Goldsmith, operations manager for Charity P3, will oversee the delivery of the ACTion Lincs project. He said: “Crucially, by offering support over a prolonged period of time and by being flexible to meet the needs of the people that we are working with, we hope to give them the best opportunity to bring about lasting change in their lives.”
ACTion Lincs will be delivered by a team of link workers, including a specialist drug and alcohol recovery worker and a specialist mental health practitioner seconded from local organisations. The specialist support offered through these link workers is crucial to the success of the project.
Natasha Swift, service manager for Addaction in Lincolnshire, said: “Addaction welcomes this highly innovative and holistic approach to tackling homelessness. ACTion Lincs will provide long term, holistic, individual care to homeless people and we’re delighted to offer one of our own specialist substance misuse workers to work in this worthwhile project.”
Chris Ashwell, divisional manager at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is a strong link between homelessness and poor mental health with up to 70 per cent of homeless people suffering from mental health problems. This new project looks at all aspects of homelessness and we are pleased that mental health services can play a part in tackling the problem.”
Counc Christine Lawton, South Holland District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “I really welcome this four-year programme to tackle the scourge of rough sleeping. By working cooperatively across the county we can offer more comprehensive help to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
Bob Ledger, director of housing at City of Lincoln Council, said: “There is a pressing need for a new approach to tackling rough sleeping in Lincolnshire towns and no more so than in Lincoln.
“From the support work that currently happens we know this issue is not just about homelessness. The individuals involved often have complex needs and require the support of a range of agencies working together to help them get off the streets and reconnected into society. This initiative offers that joint approach for the first time as part of a single project.
“Lincoln is not alone in having this issue but through this Lincolnshire-wide project we are the first to trial this new approach. Other towns and cities will be keen to see how we get on. The launch of this project is very welcome news”.