Charity’s £770,000 boost to help homeless

HELP AT HAND ... a rough sleeper.
HELP AT HAND ... a rough sleeper.

A CHARITY is being lined up to improve the help given to young homeless people in South Tyneside.

Youth homeless organisation De Paul UK is to get £770,000 a year to prevent homeless youngsters ending up isolated in bed and breakfast accommodation.

There are 26 young people in the borough deemed to be homeless and, at any one time, there are 60 young people in supported accommodation and 70 receiving other forms of support.

The scheme, if given the go-ahead, is a radical departure from putting them into available B&B accommodation, where other help they need is often not available.

The charity has a 24-hour manned unit for four people with specialist needs at Tyne Dock in South Shields along with emergency short-term nightstop’ and ‘crash pads’ accommodation.

They are made available through volunteers – all of whom are fully vetted – who allow their homes to be used as emergency accommodation for homeless young people.

South Tyneside Council will not say how much it currently spends on such support but the contract with De Paul is understood to also represent a saving.

The nine-month pilot contract is to operate from April to the end of the year, which will prevent “inappropriate use” of B&B accommodation.

In addition to finding borough youngsters a “place they can call home”, charity staff will also intervene in a bid to repair broken family relationships.

Ted Haughey, a manager with De Paul UK in South Tyneside, said that at any one time the consortium could be dealing with 150 vulnerable young borough adults .

They include people who have just left care, young people with children, some with mental health needs and others just released from prison.

Mr Haughey said: “This is a new concept and a new way of working. South Tyneside Council has spent a lot of time getting right this support for vulnerable and high-risk young people. There is a massive need.”

A report on the pilot scheme is to be presented to Wednesday’s decision-making cabinet by Helen Watson, the council’s corporate director for children, adults and families.

It says: “The cost to local authorities of housing or accommodating and supporting young homeless people is significant.

“That’s a situation at risk of being further exacerbated by an increase in homelessness caused by the current economic environment, welfare reform, slow growth in the private sector and high youth unemployment.

“Supporting homeless and vulnerable young people is not just about providing accommodation. For example, meditation and conflict resolution services, and holistic support, which ensures young people are more able to live independently and to improve their general well-being, are equally important.

“The pilot will look at the current model of delivering accommodation and support services.”

The cabinet is to meet at South Shields Town Hall from 4pm on Wednesday.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul