ORGANISATIONS supporting the homeless have welcomed fresh government funding – but say more is needed than just accommodation when it comes to keeping rough sleepers off the streets.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless will have access to £105 million to help them secure tenancies.

The money will go towards deposits for accommodation and to secure available rooms while individuals wait for a permanent home.

A Threshold Housing Link spokesman said: “Housing is a first step off the streets for individuals who have perhaps been rough sleeping for a significant period of time.

“The greater challenge to best ensure that housing can be sustained in the short to long-term is to consider the often very complex needs of some individuals and to then meet those needs by providing an appropriate and joined-up multi-agency and often intense level of support.”

The government allocated £3.2m in March to help homeless people self-isolate during the Covid-19 outbreak. In Swindon more than 20 people were housed in hotels.

The details of how the additional money will be spent are yet to be finalised, but Threshold called for a mental health outreach service to be a priority.

The charity said: “There are many causes of homelessness, but it is true to say that a red thread running through the narratives of the long-term homeless are those unmet mental health needs, which also typically lead to substance misuse, and which must be addressed if the cycle of temporary housing before again returning to the streets is to be broken.

“Importantly this must be undertaken by highly–qualified individuals who work fully integrated with the broad rough sleeper team, comprised of third sector and local authority staff.”

Kevin Maddison, founder of The Night Kitchen Swindon, echoed these concerns.

He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news that there is this extra funding. But I think a lot needs to be spent on ongoing support for people once they are in accommodation.

“It needs to be put into mental health services and other services so people can be helped to self-manage.

“There’s been a lot of progress in the last three months, but recently we been worried about people ending up back on the streets when the funding stops.

“So it’s great that the government doesn’t want to lose this golden opportunity to make a difference.”