Published: Tuesday, 15th August 2017

An innovative new approach to helping entrenched rough sleepers in the Harrogate district, has been launched by the Harrogate Homeless Project.

SAFE is a new Service for Adults Facing Exclusion.

Rough sleeping damages people's lives and can affect both their physical and mental health. The longer someone spends on the streets, the harder it is for them to get their lives back on track so that they can return to living an independent life in the future.

Whilst Harrogate Homeless Project is able to assist many people who find themselves homeless through their hostel and the No Second Night Out initiative, there are some entrenched rough sleepers who have a long history of ineffective contact with the services who are trying to assist them. As a result they are unable to get the help they so desperately need.

SAFE will offer an innovative and flexible approach for entrenched rough sleepers who are over 25 years old and have severe, multiple complex needs such as long-term mental health issues, difficulties coping with personal trauma, a criminal conviction or have been the victim of crime, issues with alcohol or substance abuse, or who are unable to access mainstream services.

Through one-to-one contact with a project leader, tailored solutions will be developed for the most marginalised, hardest to reach, vulnerable individuals. This will include a personalised approach which will put the individual at the centre of their own care and help them to make meaningful choices which are right for them. SAFE will provide encouragement and support in their engagement with other mainstream services and provide counselling for the individual's specific needs.

The new project will receive £30,000 per year in funding from Harrogate Borough Council for the next five years.

To ensure the project's success, a multi-agency approach has been established with members of Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire County Council, Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, the Probation Service and North Yorkshire Horizons sitting on SAFE's Strategic Board.

Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said: “SAFE is an extremely important and worthwhile project which will provide much needed help for some of the district's most vulnerable people.

“It is easy to see a rough sleeper and wonder why they have not been found a home. Indeed I have thought that myself on many occasions. But upon talking to friends at the Harrogate Homeless Project I realised that many had been found a home. But because deep-seated problems of addiction, poor mental health and family breakdown had not been addressed they simply could not cope with the responsibility of a home and were soon back on the streets. It is cruel to set vulnerable people up to fail but that is what we, as a society and with the best of motives, have sometimes done.

“So we needed a new approach, one which deals with the health and social problems facing rough sleepers, some of whom have been on the streets for much of the past years, even decades. That approach is SAFE and I am proud that Harrogate Borough Council is using taxpayers money compassionately to add to the extensive support it already gives to Harrogate Homeless Project to help those most in need."

Liz Hancock Chief Executive of the Harrogate Homeless Project said: “Harrogate Homeless Project is delighted to be launching this innovative new partnership scheme that will make a real and lasting difference to people's lives.

“As an independent charity, HHP has been helping homeless people for over 25 years, running the hostel 24/7, the No Second Night Out Scheme and the Winter Cold Weather Shelter, as well as our Springboard day centre. However, we recognised the need for specialist, long term intervention, working with some of the most marginalised and excluded people in society, and we are grateful to Harrogate Borough Council for their support in funding towards this scheme over the next 5 years.

“We know that some people experience enduring homelessness, often due to complex support needs which cannot always be helped in the best way in existing services. The SAFE project will be a collaboration of different agencies working together, led by HHP, to provide life changing support over a sustained period.”