Council commits £30,000 a year to help homeless in Harrogate District

Harrogate Council have committed 30,000 of their budget for the next five years to support a homelessness outreach officer. Picture: Ian Robinson

Harrogate Council have committed 30,000 of their budget for the next five years to support a homelessness outreach officer. Picture: Ian Robinson

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Homeless people in the Harrogate district are hoped to be helped off the streets for good with a new £30,000 scheme supported by the council.

At their meeting on Wednesday February 1, Harrogate Borough Council cabinet members approved a move to commit £30,000 a year of the council's budget for the next five years to fund a homelessness outreach officer.

The idea was brought forward by Council Leader, Richard Cooper, who explained that many homeless people in the district have been found homes but struggle to hold onto them due to lifestyle factors.

He said: "What the Harrogate Homeless Project have told me is that there are people on the streets, not because we haven't found them homes, but they're on the streets because they have been found homes but because of their chaotic lifestyles which may include a variety of, a number or more than, family breakdown mental health problems, other health problems, alcoholism, and other addictions, they are actually unable to hold that home down so they end up back on the streets.

"So what we're doing when we house people who are suffering from those factors is actually not solving the problem, the problem needs to be solved on the streets so that when these people get into a home we help them find a home, they can actually hold on to that."

Councillor Cooper explained that the outreach officer will have a client base on the streets and will help address problems with benefits, medical care, access to mental health support, problems with alcoholism, addictions and anything else that affects them.

Coun Cooper said: "We've been addressing the symptoms in the past and what this seeks to do is address the causes.

"I don't think any of us can walk around the major urban settlements in the district and when we see someone who cannot hold down a home because of that feel anything but compassion for these people and what we need to do is use the cash this council has to convert that compassion into action to support those people.

"It's a cause I feel very strongly about, it's an area quite close to my heart and lets face it this could be anybody, anybody could suffer a family breakdown, mental health problems and addiction, it could be us or our relatives and I think it's our duty to help solve those issues."

While the money to fund the role will be provided by the council, the officer will be employed through the Harrogate Homeless Project (HHP).

Liz Hancock, Chief Executive of HHP, welcomed the funding and explained it would help a specific group within the community.

She said: "It's fantastic. The thing is I have identified this gap in provisions and it's becoming really apparent for whom this service isn't suitable but there was nothing else established and people who couldn't access the service were becoming more entrenched.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have this support and it will just complement everything else that we do."