Over the past year, our Rough Sleeper Outreach Team has been working hard to help people turn their lives around and access specialist support and new opportunities. Working with our local homeless charities — Four Streets, HEART and Stonepillow — the team is working on a number of projects that are having a positive difference on both the individuals concerned and the wider community.

You may remember that last year, we launched our Make Your Change Count campaign, which encourages people to support these charities, rather than give directly to people on the street. I'm pleased to say that this has been having a positive impact. Local charities are reporting an increase in donations, as well as more volunteers keen to help them in their work. By diverting your donations to these important charities, you are enabling them to support new rough sleepers off the street; prevent ex-rough sleepers returning to the street; and, prevent vulnerably housed people becoming homeless. It also means that rough sleepers can access the right help to transform their lives.

We are also delivering a range of initiatives to assist those who need our help the most. This month, we are installing a number of lockers in a discreet location in Chichester for rough sleepers and other vulnerably housed people. This will enable rough sleepers to attend job interviews and other important appointments, without the worry of bringing all of their belongings with them, or leaving them in exposed locations. This will also enable those in insecure accommodation to leave their belongings in a safe place. We have also applied for Government funding as part of the Rough Sleeper initiative and have arrangements in place to accommodate any rise in the number of rough sleepers during the winter months.

I'm also pleased to tell you that we have teamed up with the University of Chichester to offer a resilience course for rough sleepers who have been housed. This aims to help build clients' confidence and empower them using a range of methods, including team building tasks. The first one will take place this month. Another partnership is with Everyone Active, who has devised a 12-week programme which focuses on personal training and personal wellbeing. It aims to help former rough sleepers who have secured long-term accommodation to improve bother their physical health and their self-confidence.

We've also successfully bid for a number of Government grants to support further projects, including a programme which will prevent ex-offenders becoming homeless and provide the support they need to secure settled accommodation. This money has also been used to help Stonepillow recruit four staff and help pay for Hicks House, which Stonepillow opened in July. This has provided an additional six units of accommodation and will offer self-contained flats for rough sleepers on the first stage of their journey to independent living.

Earlier this year, we also started to build our new short stay accommodation for those who are facing homelessness in the district. The first stage is now complete, with three refurbished flats now ready to use in the existing building. The new flats are also coming along really well, with the roof tiles being laid and solar panels installed. All of this work is due to be completed early next year.

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to those who work and volunteer for Stonepillow, HEART and The Four Streets Project. The work you all do is incredible and we are very proud to work with you to support the most vulnerable. To find out more about how to support them, please visit our make your change count webpage.

Best wishes

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council