9:20pm Saturday 31st March 2012
By Rhianne Pope
IF you have slept on the streets of Oxford for one night, you won’t have to spend another sleeping rough.
That is s the pledge from Oxford City Council, which plans to launch a No Second Night Out scheme in the next few months.
It forms part of the £1.4m the council will spend tackling homelessness in the city over the next year, after receiving a £1m grant from central government.
It is estimated that around 25 people a night sleep rough on the streets of Oxford.
The council’s homelessness manager Shaibur Rahman said: “The aim of No Second Night Out is to make sure people do not spend more than one night sleeping rough.
“The plan is to have six empty beds at a hostel in the city. We will then go out onto the streets and offer those beds to people.
“So whereas at the moment we have to say ‘we can get you a bed in a week because of the waiting list’, that will change.”
Under the scheme, three workers will help the six individuals get back on their feet.
It is hoped this will allow them to move on quickly, freeing up beds for others who need them.
Mr Rahman said: “We have more than enough provision here in the city. It is just the way it is configured that causes problems.
“So we are reconfiguring it to make sure we are adapting to what is needed on the streets.”
The No Second Night scheme started in London with the aim of ending rough sleeping by 2012.
It will be funded in Oxford with a £1,042,000 Preventing Homelessness grant from central government and £442,279 already in the council’s budget.
Mr Rahman said: “What we need to do is target the more vulnerable and needy and make sure they are prioritised.
“We are changing our street services team so there will be people walking on the streets every other night.”
Other plans for the money include funding a homelessness liason police officer for two years, 12 subsidised beds in shelters and a number of workers.
The council also provides money for projects like O’Hanlon House, One Foot Forward, Simon House and The Gatehouse.
Mr Rahman said: “Homelessness is something we are committed to solving in Oxford. And hopefully this is the best way.”
Director of the Gatehouse Project Andrew Smith said: “We support anything which is going to focus help where it is most needed and stopping people having to sleep rough.
“But the numbers both nationally and locally show there are more people sleeping rough than ever before.
“At last count there were 25 people sleeping on the streets in Oxford, despite trying to keep that number to single figures.”
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