New bid to cut homelessness

COMMUNITY leaders are building on their success at dramatically cutting the number of homeless people in bed and breakfast with a new project aimed at young people in Felixstowe.

COMMUNITY leaders are building on their success at dramatically cutting the number of homeless people in bed and breakfast with a new project aimed at young people in Felixstowe.

Through a series of initiatives, Suffolk Coastal's housing options team has slashed the number of homeless families spending time in B&Bs while waiting to be housed.

This has reduced the amount spent per year by £288,563 since 2004.

So far this year, only £6,429 has been spent - indicating even further improvement.

Now the council team is working on an innovative partnership project in schools to help prevent homelessness and give young people an accurate picture of what help is on offer.

It has teamed up with Children's and Young Person's Services and Connexions to give talks and explore the issue of homelessness through a performing arts project.

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“Homelessness is a serious concern, and young people who have recently left school are among those most at risk of having no place to live, so rather than only helping them once they have become homeless, this partnership is informing and supporting young people to help prevent the worst happening,” said council cabinet member Chris Slemmings.

“It is this direct, creative and wide-ranging approach that has achieved such impressive results in reducing homelessness and helped our team see the best results of any in the Eastern Region over the last three months.”

The work has led to homelessness featuring in the drama and performing arts curriculum at high schools in Felixstowe.

This culminated in students making a DVD about the problems that can arise if young people choose to leave home soon after finishing school.

The project is now to be spread out to high schools in Leiston, Saxmundham and Woodbridge.

Anyone concerned about possibly becoming homeless can contact the housing options team on 01394 444264 or at homelessness@suffolkcoastal.gov.uk.

Do you think schemes to tackle homelessness are working? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk