New Year, new start: Surrey Heath Borough Council and the Hope Hub launch new emergency housing service 

Thursday, 16 December, 2021
         

Surrey Heath Borough Council and the Hope Hub will open new short-term accommodation for people needing emergency housing in January 2022.

The Council is committed to extending our support for those who need our help, and want to deliver that support in a positive way for all the local community. The Emergency Accommodation Service (EAS), based in a six-bedroom property in Camberley, is an important step in supporting residents who find themselves homeless to return to a settled life in the community.

EAS will be run and managed by the Hope Hub, an established registered charity working to prevent and end homelessness in Surrey Heath, who are supported by the Council.

Under existing homelessness legislation, single people who are not assessed as vulnerable do not have to be offered accommodation by the Council. During the pandemic however, we extended the help we give single people, so that everyone has an accommodation option instead of sleeping rough while they try to secure a new home.

In the last 18 months we have offered more than 40 individuals short term housing while the Council and the Hope Hub have worked with them to secure somewhere to live.

However this emergency accommodation has often been B&Bs out of the area – so the new service gives us the opportunity to have a local base from which residents can access local services.

The EAS will offer safe overnight accommodation with a hot meal, staff onsite to provide support, and will work hand in hand with daily support provided by The Hope Hub in central Camberley.

Before being offered a room a full assessment will be carried out to ensure that individuals are able to live in a shared environment with other people, are prepared to abide by a set of house rules (including a curfew) and are willing to work with local services to end their homelessness during their time at the EAS.

The support individuals are required to engage with, via the Hope Hub and the Council’s Housing Solutions Team, will help individuals find settled accommodation – this could be through mediation with family, finding a room or flat with a private landlord or moving into longer term supported housing.

People are connected with health and social care support services, and have access to training and courses to create greater independence (such as cooking lessons), improve digital skills and access to volunteering and employment opportunities. These run alongside a number of programmes that improve people’s confidence, resilience and ability to move on to independent lives.

Initial funding for the EAS was secured by SHBC from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Mags Mercer, CEO of the Hope Hub, said: “The Hope Hub is delighted to partner with Surrey Heath Borough Council and manage this important project. We opened in May 2018 to assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so and support each person holistically helping them access training, gain vital IT and digital skills, learn to cook on a budget, life skills such as money management and support into employment. This new emergency accommodation service is a vital addition to the day services available at the Hope Hub.”

Surrey Heath Portfolio Holder for Support and Safeguarding, Cllr Shaun Garrett, said: “We are committed to helping those most in need, and this service is an important project for us.

“The aim is for the EAS to help provide a bridge for people between homelessness and a settled home, and being based locally will mean people using the accommodation can easily access the excellent support services at the Hope Hub as well as other local services provided by the Council and other partners.

“It will provide support and assistance for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and help them get back on their feet.”

More information about the Hope Hub can be found at www.thehopehub.org.uk(link is external)

More about the Emergency Accommodation Service (EAS)     

What is the EAS?

· Accommodation for Surrey Heath residents assessed as needing emergency housing.

· Managed by the Hope Hub with staff on-site whenever clients are in the building

· A safe place for homeless individuals, free of drugs and alcohol.

· A home in the community where residents will have the same rights and responsibilities as their neighbours - the right to the quiet enjoyment of their home and the responsibility to respect their neighbours.

· Not a direct access hostel – no-one will be able to ‘turn up’ and be offered a room, only residents who have had an assessment will be offered help.

· Not emergency accommodation for individuals assessed as being’ vulnerable’ (these people will be offered other temporary accommodation already used by the Council).

· Not suitable for anyone who could be a risk to themselves or others or those who have a history of such behaviour.