Support For Vulnerable People
West Dunbartonshire Council is getting set to reshape its homeless services following on from the Labour Administrations commitment at the June Council for: ‘Investment in new models of temporary accommodation to ensure that the Council has robust and affordable services in place to discharge its statutory responsibilities.’ The Council currently has around 250 homeless units spread throughout the area to help meet the needs of people most in need of accommodation. The housing units are for temporary use until individuals and families can secure a tenancy of their own. They also help the Council to meet its policy commitment of not placing families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation, a policy introduced by the previous Labour Administration. The homeless units have been used by a wide range of clients including families who have had to be accommodated at short notice due to flood and fire damage. Council Leader Martin Rooney said: ‘The Council has an excellent homeless service. The service has had its challenges over the years and continues to evolve to meet the needs of our communities. The changes that were agreed at the Council meeting in June will allow officers to develop new models of services for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.’ The first stage of the development of the Supported Accommodation Programme has already begun and a planning application was submitted for the Ashton View Project which will provide 8 supported living accommodation units for homeless people. The planning application is to change the use of 28 Ashton View to a 24 hour supported accommodation for homeless people which will replace the existing temporary homeless accommodation units in Westcliff. The Council has consulted with residents in Westcliff on the proposal. Housing Spokesman Councillor David McBride said: ‘The Ashton View supported living project will meet the needs of homeless people and has been fully consulted with the local community. I believe that the new service model, with the 24 hour support, will be a significant improvement for the individuals concerned and it will bring wider community benefits.’ The new 24 hour service means that Council staff will be on hand to assist clients and address any issues that arise. The Council is keen to develop another three supported accommodation projects and housing staff will identify suitable accommodation over the coming weeks. The new projects will be managed by Housing and would provide 24 hour supported accommodation for homeless people. Consultation would take place with the local community in advance of the projects going ahead. Councillor McBride added: ‘In order to ensure success of the Housing Support Programme it is vital that local councillors and residents are fully consulted on the individual projects in their area.’ One of the Supported Living Projects is expected to be a partnership projects with Alternatives which will be yet another innovation for West Dunbartonshire. Alternatives, the West Dunbartonshire community drugs agency, has secured a massive £860,000 from the Big Lottery to deliver specialist care and support to individuals who have addressed their addiction issues and are committed to living a more settled life style. The Alternatives Project will be a ‘dry’ house and all residents will have to sign up to being part of a very strict regime and will be subject to regular drug and alcohol testing. The Homeless Service will provide the housing management aspect of the project and Alternatives will provide the specialist support. Council Leader Martin Rooney said: ‘The Alternatives Project will allow us to address unmet needs and give West Dunbartonshire a brand new community based service to help and support people recovering from addiction. Importantly, this service will only be available to individuals who have made a commitment to change their life for the better. Alternatives has an excellent track record in helping people throughout our area and this new service will help people to rebuild their lives, bring families together and will literally save lives.’ In order to ensure that Alternatives don’t jeopardise their Lottery funding, the Council Housing Service are keen to start the consultation process with local elected members and neighbouring tenants and residents as soon as possible. The planned Supported Living Accommodation Programme has a number of wider community benefits: (i) It brings back into use a number of existing council houses, providing income for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and meeting an un-met need; (ii) it ensures that vulnerable people get 24 hour support appropriate to their needs; and (iii) it ensures early intervention from Council staff and Alternatives and should reduce instances of ant-social behaviour. Depute Housing Spokesman, Councillor Lawrence O’Neill said: ‘Homelessness, affects every community in West Dunbartonshire and we need to ensure that we have a wide range of services across the whole of the council area which are tailored to meet the needs of the client base. The new services being introduced across the Council area will increase our overall capacity and will mean we can provide the right type of help to vulnerable individuals, when they need help most.’
- Over the coming weeks Council Housing and Homeless staff will be looking at possible locations for the new Supported Living Projects.
- Once an area has been identified as suitable to meet the needs of the service, consultation will take place with local elected v members and the local community, in order to identify and overcome any issues.
- The Ashton View Project, shows that it is vital to work with the local councillors and the local community to build support for the individual project and to explain the benefits.