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The number of people sleeping rough in Dorset has halved – thanks to work by Dorset Council and other agencies, says the council.

Latest figures show that there are currently 18 people rough sleeping in the county, compared to 38 last year. In Weymouth and Portland the number of rough sleepers has fallen from 18 to six.

Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council Housing and Community Safety Brief Holder, said:  ‘A lot of work has been done to reduce homelessness in Dorset. Rough sleeping has halved in a year. This is good news, although more work still needs to be done, and is being done.’

Dorset Council works with people who are found sleeping on the street, through its Rough Sleeper Outreach Service, provided by homeless charity Julian House.

The council is again bidding for government funding after successfully securing £250k last year from the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative Funding and Rapid Rehousing Pathways Programme.

This funded the ‘Navigator Scheme’ which guides rough sleepers through the support available and helps them secure accommodation. The money has also been used to expand a supported lettings scheme, which helps rough sleepers secure tenancies.

Dorset Council also runs a ‘Housing First’ Programme which offers permanent, affordable housing to people who have been homeless multiple times and have not succeeded with traditional support. The service supports 11 individuals across Dorset, helping them access health and community services, which reduces their risk of becoming homeless again.

The council works with agencies, such as the Lantern Trust and the Bus Shelter in Weymouth to deliver schemes like ‘Safe Sleep’ that help rough sleepers. Safe Sleep sees beds and hot food provided in some Weymouth churches. It is organised by the Lantern Trust, Churches of Weymouth and Portland and Julian House, on behalf of Dorset Council.

During cold weather extra support is provided for rough sleepers. Dorset Council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol takes people off the streets and provides them with temporary accommodation.

Rough sleepers in Weymouth also receive help and advice from the council’s uniformed Community Safety Patrol Officers. The officers carry out informal welfare checks, refer rough sleepers to other agencies for help and are currently giving out Christmas card flyers that offer advice about housing, the Safe Sleep scheme and the Bus Shelter.

People can report concerns about rough sleeping at streetlink.org.uk if you have immediate concerns for someone’s safety please ring 999.

The rough sleeping figures come from the annual Rough Sleeper Count, which was carried out at the end of November.

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