Volunteers help rough sleepers find homes

Inspiring scheme in Torbay sees local volunteers help eight homeless people living on the streets find accommodation

As many of The Big Issue’s magazine vendors know all too well, getting off the streets and out of homelessness can be extremely difficult.

One ground-breaking initiative in Devon’s Torbay area has seen eight rough sleepers in the rural community successfully move into permanent homes.

As part of the European-wide End Street Homelessness Campaign, a group of 25 ordinary people volunteered to venture out onto the streets to find out about the problems, needs and aspirations of rough sleepers in the towns of Torquay, Brixham and Paignton.

We can make a difference when we listen to homeless people themselves

The volunteers gained insights and information about who exactly was sleeping rough in the area and what their challenges were.

A partnership between Torbay Council, local homelessness charity Shekinah and housing association Westward Housing then got involved to see if they could work together to help people find a suitable home.

A community effort

Thanks to the joined-up effort, eight rough sleepers now have roofs over their heads.

There are now seven other organisations involved in working together more effectively on a permanent basis, including day centres, local homelessness charities and the police.

The people and organisations involved in this campaign have shown that we can make a difference when we work together

“This is a compassionate response from Torbay and a community effort to address the concerns around rough sleeping,” said Torbay councillor Mark King. “The information obtained via volunteers will help us to inform what services we need to deliver.”

Isobel Ashford, deputy director of the Building and Social Housing Foundation and co-ordinator of the European campaign to end homelessness, said: “The people and organisations involved in the Torbay campaign have shown that we can make a difference when we listen to homeless people themselves, and then all work together to tackle street homelessness in our communities.”