HOMELESS people in Swindon may soon see their lives improved following a meeting of individuals and organisations seeking to help those sleeping rough.

Late last month more than 30 people met at the council’s civic offices in Euclid Street to discuss various ways in which those without a home can best be helped.

One of the charities instrumental in seeking to tackle homelessness in Swindon is Big Breakfast Plus, an organisation that for more than 23 years has been providing cooked breakfasts to those in need and helping homeless people to engage with support services.

Rosemary Curtis, one of the charity’s trustees who organised the meeting, said: “This was the first meeting of its kind since the demise of HOSTS (Homeless Organisations Stick Together in Swindon) some years ago.

“And the timing was particularly pertinent. With the Homelessness Reduction Act aiming to prevent homelessness, effective multi-agency partnerships will become more important than ever.

“At a practical level, many agencies reported recent month on month increases in numbers of service users needing their help.”

The Homelessness Reduction Bill formally became an Act of Parliament in April and aims to place a new duty on local authorities to help prevent the homelessness of all families and single people, regardless of priority need, who are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness.

It is a move that most homeless charities have welcomed.

Explaining what was discussed during the meeting, Rosemary said: “We looked for ways to avoid possible duplication in provision, identify where there are gaps, find common objectives and then set goals for improving the service overall.

“The major aims identified included the provision of a holistic service seven days a week, providing a PO box address for homeless people so that they can apply for jobs, and a day centre where all services can be based and information shared as appropriate.

“There was general agreement that everyone who attended benefitted from this opportunity to share their experiences. And it was unanimously agreed to continue that co-operation through an alliance.”

She added: “2018 will be our 25th anniversary, and it would be wonderful to mark that by closing down Big Breakfast Plus.

“I’m not naïve enough to believe that homelessness will have disappeared, but it would be great if, by then, we had sufficient appropriate accommodation for both families and single people facing homelessness.”

For more information about the alliance of agencies and individuals working to end homelessness, email Rosemary on bigbreakfastplus@gmail.com.