AN ANSWER to beating Portsmouth’s homelessness crisis could be on the horizon with the launch of a new initiative.
Street Support Portsmouth kicked off yesterday on World Homeless Day.
The new website and mobile app is a one-stop resource detailing all the services on offer to assist those living on the street.
It is hoped the needy, as well as those who want to offer help – by either donating or volunteering – will use the site.
The support network has already proven a hit in Manchester and is currently being run in Bournemouth, Bradford and Leeds.
Former Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond has been instrumental in bringing the system to the city.
She was backed by Paul Hutchings, project manager at the John Pounds Centre who designed the website, and Portsmouth City Council, which is initially funding it.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘We all know that there’s more people coming into the city and homeless people on the streets – everybody’s been commenting on that.
‘So this is a way of co-ordinating all the agencies, all the food banks and hostels, putting it all on one site so it can be co-ordinated.’
So far, 35 groups has signed up to the site, ranging from charities and voluntary groups to government organisations.
It is hoped the website will roll out elsewhere, reducing the numbers coming to the city.
As well as what help is on offer in the city, the site also has a space for people to volunteer and to donate cash, which will be given out fairly to needy causes registered on it.
In Manchester, the scheme has raised more than £93,000.
Councillor Paul Godier, who is the homeless champion in Portsmouth, said the new service was vital in helping the city’s needy.
He said: ‘This is Portsmouth. This app is perfect for us. If we make this work we really will put a dent in the numbers of vulnerable people we’re helping.
‘This is one of the biggest answers we’ve had in the last four years I’ve been working.
‘We’ve done shelters, we’ve done policies and we’ve been lobbying government, but we’re actually going to have a concrete product that’s going to help all of us.’
Portsmouth City Council has paid for the site to be launched. But the quest is now on to find more businesses to stump up funds – about £12,000 – to keep the initiative running.
As well as this, charities and groups not yet registered are being urged to do so. For more details, see streetsupport.net/portsmouth.