A NEW facility to support people who are homeless or in crisis is the latest measure helping Tameside to lead the away in tackling rough sleeping.
The Town House, located close to Ashton town centre, is not just an overnight hostel – it is a community hub providing wrap around care and support to people who are homeless and/or are vulnerable.
The Town House being opened by its namesake Pauline Town and Cllr Brenda WarringtonIt forms part of a wider innovative approach by Tameside Council’s Homelessness Team, which has seen a significant drop in rough sleeping in the borough.
Between 2018 & 2019, Tameside recorded the highest percentage drop in rough sleeping in England from 42 down to just five – a reduction of 86%. A rough sleeper count on Thursday 9 July 2020 found no-one sleeping rough in Tameside. This is first time in almost 10 years that a rough sleeper count in the borough returned a zero result.
The team’s approach involves tailoring the service to suit individuals’ needs and problems. The service recognised that getting people in off the streets is only the first hurdle and that often ongoing support is needed with a wide range of complex issues in order to prevent people falling back into rough sleeping.
The Rough Sleeping team offer help with drug and alcohol addiction, mental and physical health problems, welfare rights, domestic abuse, vulnerability and even simple life skills such as cooking and personal hygiene.
The Town House – named after local pub landlady Pauline Town who has worked tirelessly on a voluntary basis in partnership with the council to support people rough sleeping – will help to build on this successful work.
The facility is located in the former St Anne’s Primary School building next to St Anne’s Church in Burlington Street and has been developed in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Salford and Father Simon Firth, whose support has been extremely valuable throughout the development of the building.
The first floor of the building has been converted to overnight hostel accommodation, providing a safe and warm temporary sleeping space for anyone who is sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough. Evening meals are provided and support staff work with individuals to identify their needs and start to address the issues which have led to their homelessness.
The ground floor of the building, Walsingham House, is a shared space used by the homelessness service, other charitable and voluntary groups and the catholic diocese to offer a range of support measures for people in crisis.
It includes a community café, which provides meals for hostel residents, together with preparation of food parcels and pre-prepared meals for vulnerable people across Tameside. A food and clothing bank will operate from the ground floor and laundry facilities are also available.
The ground floor also contains rooms suitable for counselling, mental and physical health assessments, welfare rights assessments, drug rehabilitation work and other services which require a suitable 1-2-1 environment.
The building opened up to a small number of residents from 27 July in line with the current covid restrictions.
Tameside Council Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington said: “I’m so proud of the work that our Homelessness team and wonderful community partners are doing to successfully support people who find themselves in crisis and sleeping rough in Tameside. Tackling rough sleeping is one of our key priorities as a nurturing community and is great to see these latest figures showing that we are doing exactly just that and supporting people to move forwards onto better lives.
“The Town House is much more than an overnight hostel – it is a community facility offering tailored support, guidance, care, clothing and food to vulnerable people who find themselves in crisis. It is not just a sticking plaster or a temporary solution to supporting someone – it is there to address issues and find sustainable solutions for the long term so people don’t go back to being on the streets or back to situations where they are vulnerable.
“The team have already been doing amazing work in this area and this facility will support them to build on this and continue to make a real difference to people’s lives and give people who have been in the most desperate of situations hope and a real chance of better futures.”