HELPING former rough sleepers stay in new homes by teaching them life skills like cooking, managing bills, and preventing anti-social behaviour is the aim of a service launching in Oxfordshire.

Homeless Oxfordshire has created a new housing and innovation service.

A life skills programme at the heart of this service will help people learn 'vital skills' that it is hoped will help keep them off the streets for good.

This will include courses in cookery, debt management and budgeting.

This programme is in the final stages of preparation and will be introduced to the homeless people it helps later this month.

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Craig Freeman, Head of Housing and Innovation said: “We have to accept that many of our residents suffer with life-long experiences which require intensive support to maximise their chances of a positive future.

"We are delighted to introduce a number of new features which, when combined, provides a wrap-around approach that goes further than we ever have before to support our clients and influence behaviour change.

"Ultimately, it is through a system of measures that we can play a vital part in reducing homelessness in Oxfordshire”.

Homeless Oxfordshire also plans to give the people it helps access to Chromebooks, because many of them experience 'digital exclusion'.

This means they do not have access to technology they need to apply for jobs or to create a CV.

The Chromebooks are being funded with a £5,000 donation from Oxford Said Business School earlier this year.

A rough sleeper in Oxford

A rough sleeper in Oxford

The new service also introduces a specialist anti-social behaviour and safeguarding team, which has been designed to protect the most vulnerable residents from serious harm.

This specialist team will be supported through a new community warden scheme that will be tasked with investigating and managing anti-social behaviour.

But Homeless Oxfordshire's vulnerable clients are at threat from‘cuckooing', a practice where someone moves into a home without permission.

They are also more likely to have to deal with domestic violence and other forms of abuse.

The new service will also target this kinds of anti-social behaviour.

Claire Dowan, CEO at Homeless Oxfordshire said: “We work with extremely vulnerable people and our main focus is on ensuring that we give our clients the best possible opportunities to help them to move on from homelessness.

"Improving safeguarding practices and protecting our clients from threats of anti-social behaviour will ensure that their journeys to recovery are as uninterrupted as possible.”

Throughout the pandemic, a government-backed scheme called Everyone In has brought rough sleepers in from the streets to prevent Covid spreading among them.

READ AGAIN: Why are homeless rough sleepers still on the streets?

After rough sleepers were placed in temporary accommodation, councils have now moved on to making sure they have longer term homes they can stay in.

Some people have still slept on the streets during the pandemic, either as a result of refusing help, being kicked out of shelters for bad behaviour, or having been made newly homeless.

A new 'housing led' approach to helping the homeless was signed off by Oxfordshire County Council leaders in February.

The aim of this is to provide people with a home and then start addressing other problems they might have like mental illness or substance abuse.

Homeless Oxfordshire is currently recruiting community wardens to join them. For more information, please visit:

For more information about the new service, contact: