Oxford City Council has started to transform the way it tackles rough sleeping by opening a service for newly homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.
The new Somewhere Safe to Stay service offers 12 beds for up to seven nights to newly homeless people while they participate in an intensive “right first time” assessment that identifies suitable housing and links them with the other support they need to leave homelessness behind.
Somewhere Safe to Stay is operating on an interim basis in Simon House while the council completes the conversion of 1 Floyds Row into a new engagement and assessment centre and shelter for up to 56 people.
A new winter shelter for up to 15 people will also open in Simon House in early November. This will be available to anyone experiencing homelessness – whether or not they have a local connection or recourse to public funds.
The winterlong shelter and Somewhere Safe to Stay will transfer to Floyds Row when the first phase of the conversion is completed in January. The council has commissioned St Mungo’s to run both services.
“It takes more than a roof to end homelessness and Somewhere Safe to Stay is the first stage in our plans to transform services for people experiencing homelessness in Oxfordshire. Expert assessment and reconnection workers will help people to develop personal housing plans and get the support they need from other services to move quickly into more sustainable accommodation.
“I’m really pleased that St Mungo’s are operating the new service and the winterlong shelter available to anyone experiencing homelessness that will open in early November. Their experience of running this type of new assessment service in London and the south of England has seen four fifths of people leaving the streets behind for good.
“We believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and the best way to help someone experiencing rough sleeping is to get them to come inside and find the support they need to rebuild their lives. This fundamental change to front end homelessness services and winter accommodation will help us to achieve this and be a catalyst for change across the wider system.”
Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing