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Rough sleepers brought inside

All rough sleepers in Test Valley have been offered accommodation to get them off the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has existing support in place to ensure that anyone rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping, who presents themselves to the authority, will receive an offer of accommodation. Significant funding has been put in place over the last few years to transform the council’s homelessness strategy and bring as many people as possible off the streets.

And last week, the government instructed all local authorities to try to get everybody inside and to close all shared hostel-type facilities to help prevent the virus from spreading.

As a result, TVBC relocated all those who had been housed in shared emergency bed accommodation, and again made the offer of accommodation to all known rough sleepers. Most took up the offer of somewhere to stay.

Anyone aware of someone rough sleeping in the borough is being asked to report this via the Street Link website at www.streetlink.org.uk. This will automatically notify TVBC’s housing team.

Portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, councillor Phil Bundy, said: “I would like to thank our housing team for all their hard work to get people inside. The thought of having to sleep rough is a terrifying one but it is particularly worrying amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“No one in Test Valley should ever have to sleep rough, which is why we have put significant funding in place over the years to ensure that we are able to offer emergency temporary accommodation to anyone who needs it.

“It is important to stress that there are lots of reasons people may refuse an offer of accommodation, and for those who have spent prolonged periods on the street the thought of coming inside can be incredibly daunting. We will continue to work with those people who remain on the street and will do all we can to encourage them to take up our offer. I sincerely hope that those who have previously refused the offers of accommodation, but have now accepted this, will continue to work with us.

“Clearly the public will be concerned for those individuals and we would ask them to please report any rough sleepers they come across via Street Link at www.streetlink.org.uk

“This will send an automatic notification to our housing team, who can then work with the individual to arrange accommodation and support services as appropriate.”

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