Task force set up to help homeless in Warwick district

Around 20 organisations attended the summit last week.
Around 20 organisations attended the summit last week.

A task force is being created to help tackle the homelessness issue in the Warwick District.

Following on from the homelessness summit at Leamington Town Hall last Thursday (March 15), organisations who attended are now being invited to help form a task force to build on the groundwork made at the meeting.

Around 20 organisations attended the homelessness summit in Leamington.

Around 20 organisations attended the homelessness summit in Leamington.

Around 20 organisations, including Helping Hands, LWS Night Shelter, P3, Crisis and Shelter attended the summit, which was organised and chaired by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western.

A joined-up approach is said to be key to helping the district’s homeless.

Susan Rutherford and Jazz Singh, directors of LWS Night Shelter, said: “There is a need for a collaborative system that addresses the individual as a whole, taking into account not just their housing needs, but complex issues such as mental and physical health, substance abuse, repeat offending and unemployment.

“It is a major challenge to address all of these issues, but we are very keen to be part of the solution and welcome the opportunity to discuss this openly with multiple local agencies.”

Mr Western said: “The summit allowed us to share our ideas about finding practical solutions for those suffering from homelessness in our community. Many positive ideas and suggestions were shared, including the need for housing-first policies, innovative addiction treatments and the use of modular housing.

“Homelessness locally has doubled since 2015, and the Warwick District is now the worst in the West Midlands for rough sleeping. We can and should be more ambitious in trying to end homelessness all together ahead of the national target of 2027.

“It is important to work together to address the causes and symptoms of homelessness by providing bespoke and holistic treatment services, as well as fulfilling our duty to provide social, council and affordable housing. Many organisations spoke of the impact of budget cuts on the services they provided, and delivered stark reminders of how rough sleeping has increased by 169 per cent since 2010.

“I look forward to working with homelessness charities and local authorities in future to end homelessness and rough sleeping.”

Cllr Peter Phillips, Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for housing and property services, said: “This event really did highlight how complex these issues are and that no one agency can resolve the problems facing this vulnerable group of people in isolation.

“It has also further justified our decision to form an action group, with the aim of pooling together the expertise and resources we have in our community to find practical solutions.”

Lisa Barker, head of housing at the district council, said: “The council has already started to work on projects we have identified in our homelessness strategy, but to take these forward successfully we need to form a group made up of people who are in day-to-day contact with those affected.”

Warwickshire County Council also attended the summit.

Cllr Les Caborn, Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for adult social care and health, said: ”The opportunity to be involved in the summit was very timely for Warwickshire County Council. Only last month the council pledged an investment of £300,000 over two years to support homelessness across the county, with particular focus on rough sleepers who may also have mental health problems and/or drugs and alcohol dependencies.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with partners to deliver a programme of work to address this challenge. Delivering this programme in partnership is key to finding a joint solution and we look forward to working across housing, health, social care and the third sector in tackling this important issue.

“The summit was a great opportunity for us to meet local providers of homeless, mental health, drugs and alcohol services, all of whom will have crucial input to determining the solutions needed.”

The district council has organised for the first meeting of the Warwick District Homelessness Strategy Delivery Group to take place at Leamington Town Hall on May 3 at 10am.