Council owned Bond House in Bond Street is proposed as the location and, subject to planning approval and funding being secured, the vacant building would be converted into an Assessment Centre and 24 units of accommodation, including 8 wheelchair accessible apartments.
The model comprises of 3 elements - a Single Persons Assessment Centre, emergency accommodation and settled accommodation units – and would provide bespoke, multi agency support for the vulnerable people residing in the accommodation units, which would allow them to live safe and independent lives with the backing of arm's length support as and when required.
The idea was sparked by lessons learnt from the success of supporting Wolverhampton’s homeless citizens through the ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the coronavirus outbreak, when partners in the multi agency Homeless Operational Group pooled their resources at one location - a city centre hotel - to safeguard individuals from the streets.
That facility helped more than 100 people either facing the threat of homelessness or who were rough sleeping successfully move on from the city’s emergency shelter into long term safe, suitable, and sustainable accommodation.
The new proposal also includes security and concierge presence on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, something that was integral to the success of the emergency provision during ‘Everyone In’ and would ensure that the site is secure and residents are safe at all times.
It would also provide for other vulnerable groups, for example women experiencing homelessness or people who are made homeless and have secure employment. The rent and charges would be affordable and would allow people to be in employment, which is not always possible in traditional supported accommodation.
If the Cabinet report is agreed by councillors at a meeting on Wednesday, 16 July, funding is expected to come from a mixture of Council spending and Government grants.
The project has been developed following consultation with and best practice learning from residents, volunteers, staff and partners.
Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, said: “We will continue to help rough sleepers rebuild their lives. We have a clear message that no one needs to sleep out on our city streets.
“The work during the coronavirus crisis has built on the collaborative, partnership working approach to services for homeless individuals and rough sleepers in Wolverhampton.
“The positive relationships between partners at all levels have meant that residents receive the best service possible which is having real outcomes.
“There have been so many good news success stories with some residents, who were rough sleepers for a long time, engaging with services for the first time or after a long break.
“This initiative will continue to offer the best possible service to some of the most vulnerable people in our city. This is not merely a story about effective partnership working – it is a story about transforming lives for the better.”
Operational group partners include: Wolverhampton Homes, St George’s Hub, P3, Enterprise Homes Group Good Shepherd, Recovery Near You, RMC, Wolverhampton BID, Solace, Changing Lives, Police, A&E Security, Wolverhampton CCG, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, food services (Good Shepherd, Outreach 4 Wolverhampton, Sant Ashram, Midland Langar, Helping Hands, Sedgley Street Sikh Gurdwara), Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and Probation services.
For details on how to contact support services to help those experiencing rough sleeping, visit Rough sleepers.
People can also help the homeless and rough sleepers by donating money to the city’s Alternative Giving Campaign.