SOME of Swindon’s most hard-to-reach street homeless will have a roof over their heads this winter as part of an ambitious new project being rolled out for the first time.

The town has two main hostels for those who have fallen on hard times and found themselves sleeping rough.

But Culvery Court - run by Threshold Housing Link - and Booth House - run by the Salvation Army - often cannot deal with the most problematic rough sleepers, who find it difficult to comply with the strict rules the centres put in place.

Instead, those people find themselves seeking shelter in car parks, empty buildings and even out in the open - some have died in recent years when the winter cold became too much to cope with.

But this year, for the first time 12 rough sleepers will be given the opportunity to get off the streets during the coldest months.

The initiative - details of which were revealed for the first time on Tuesday - is being launched by Swindon Borough Council in close partnership with the voluntary sector.

Mike Ash, the head of housing at the council, said: “We’re trying something very different and quite exciting.

“The project is based on putting a roof over the head of at least 12 fairly entrenched rough sleepers in Swindon to work with them for a three-month period.

“We’ve identified a property, we’ve identified all the voluntary groups who are willing to work with us and we’re looking at what professional support they will need.

“We are extremely hopeful that for those 12 individuals, we’ll be able to have a really lasting impact so that at the end of the winter period they’ve engaged with us in a warm and comfortable environment rather than in car parks.

“At the end of three months we will make them a housing offer and then monitor and work with them to track their progress.”

If the outcomes for the first 12 participants are positive, the plan could be rolled out further for winter 2018 and potentially beyond.

Of course there are some rough sleepers who will not benefit from the programme this time around - current estimates put the total number of street homeless in Swindon at 20 to 25.

Mr Ash said some of that group, those on the edge of criminality, seeking to evade authorities and who are resistant to embracing support, are not deemed suitable for the new project.

Existing support for them, provided by council staff, the Threshold homelessness outreach team and other voluntary groups, will continue through the winter.

It is understood that the new project will be funded through increased revenue in town centre car parks where charges are expected to be increased in the coming weeks.