Council divided by Fareham’s homelessness plight

Fareham Borough Council has been debating homelessness
Fareham Borough Council has been debating homelessness

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A POLITICAL argument has broken out over the plight of a town’s homeless.

The Liberal Democrat opposition group on the council wants to see more homeless outreach workers funded.

Following a report on homelessness by charity Two Saints, Fareham borough councillors have expressed differing opinions on the needs of rough sleepers.

Lib Dem councillor Shaun Cunningham believes there is ‘a total misunderstanding of the homeless position’ in Fareham and added: ‘Those who find themselves homeless and seek help have complex issues, drugs, alcohol, chaotic lifestyle and – an issue which we all should be alarmed about – the numbers of people who can’t access proper mental health provision on our streets, is shocking.

‘The report backs the call made by the Liberal Democrats here in Fareham for funding to enable increase hours for an outreach worker here in Fareham.

‘This request which was put forward by the Liberal Democrats in Fareham was rejected by the Conservatives.

‘We need those extra hours so we as a society can give those who are less fortunate than ourselves the support they need to get back on their feet.’

The Conservatives agreed that nobody in the borough should be homeless.

Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘The council takes the issues of rough sleeping and homelessness very seriously.

‘Against a background of national and county-wide spending reductions we have devoted a considerable budget towards tackling both issues.’

The council has reported the number of rough sleepers in the borough fluctuates but has not exceeded 18.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘We work closely and successfully with specialised support organisations to help rough sleepers deal with their complex needs.

‘However, there is a minority of people whose needs are not met through this traditional support. That is why we are exploring with our partners alternative ways of working to meet the needs of this core group.’

Two Saints offers an 18-room hostel in Gosport Road among other services including outreach and support programs.

The total number of clients reportedly using the hostel between 2015 and 2016 was 66 which increased by 50 per cent to 100 clients between 2016 and 2017.

Two Saints has been working with the council since 1999 and the charity is the main provider of homelessness services in Hampshire boroughs including Fareham, Gosport and Havant.

The charity wants to offer additional services including access to sub-let accommodation, and is exploring opportunities to purchase premises to provide extra accommodation.