Funding could almost double for Harrogate's rough sleepers over winter

H'gate Homeless Project. Liz Hancock of the Harrogate Homeless Project.  (1510084AM5)
H'gate Homeless Project. Liz Hancock of the Harrogate Homeless Project. (1510084AM5)
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Funding for Cold Weather Provision for Harrogate’s rough sleepers could be almost doubled after seeing a 28 per cent increase on individuals using the service last year.

Funding for Cold Weather Provision for Harrogate’s rough sleepers could be almost doubled after seeing a 28 per cent increase on individuals using the service last year.

Since 2010, Harrogate Borough Council has funded Harrogate Homeless Project (HHP) to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers during certain weather conditions.

In 2014/15, the council provided almost £13,000 in funding to HHP to run their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) for the 26 nights it was used.

However, the council will discuss plans to spend almost £24,000 this year covering December 21 to February 21 after 41 individuals used the service last year, a 28 per cent increase on the number of individuals in 2013/14.

Liz Hancock explained the No Second Night Out (NSNO) scheme will remain the first response to all rough sleepers during the cold weather which was also used by a higher than expected number of people.

She said: “In NSNO you might have a few nights here before you are resettled but in SWEP you have to be able to provide shelter to anyone whatever the circumstances.

“Last year we opened between 8pm and 8am and gave people a supper and somewhere to sleep with bedding but our big problem was the lack of staff.

“Numbers of people using SWEP last year was up. Our highest number of people admitted on a night was 11 and on a quarter of the nights it was used the average number was ten.

“It’s a much needed service in Harrogate and people access it for the same reason as any other person who is homeless.

“What we hope is that they will then use some of the help that we offer in the centre.”

The SWEP kicks in when the temperature is forecast to drop to zero degrees or below for three consecutive nights to ensure no one dies on the street as a result.

Ms Hancock explained NSNO provides emergency shelter for rough sleepers before assessing them and offering a single service offer of accommodation within a continued support package.

Since April, 117 people have been referred to the service and Ms Hancock admitted this was higher than the service had expected.

She said: “There are still a core group that are more difficult to house with their needs and accommodation doesn’t always work out.”