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Portsmouth will get nearly £700,000 of Government money to help rough sleepers rebuild their lives.

The £682,000 – which is on top of the £4.5m the Council has secured for housing the city’s homeless – will enable rough sleepers to recover from drug and alcohol misuse and help them rebuild their lives away from the dangers and ill health associated with sleeping rough. It is the sixth biggest allocation of the substance misuse fund given to any council in England.

The grant, which will be allocated over 15 months to March 2022, will help provide:

  • a team of specialists who will help with the wide range of needs homeless people have, focusing on providing drug and alcohol treatment
  • help with accessing mental health services; providing psychological support to overcome trauma, such as previous child abuse; and co-ordination with housing services and benefits, taking a more joined-up, supportive approach
  • focused treatment costs, such as prescription methadone, therapy groups, inpatient detoxification and residential rehabilitation.

In partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and managed by Public Health England, the funding will enable Portsmouth City Council to offer accessible drug and alcohol treatment, including detox and rehabilitation services. The programme of support is for rough sleepers provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic as part of the ‘Everyone In’ programme, as well as people who are currently rough sleeping.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, says of the bid: “One of the main potential issues for those sleeping rough is the fall into a dependency on drugs or alcohol or both, and we know how much harder it is then to get out of being homeless – almost impossible without help. That help is now going to be strengthened considerably with this much needed funding which will be provided and used at the point of need, offering the right help to allow people to make real and long-lasting changes to their lives.”

Cllr Darren Sanders, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness says: “This is yet another vote of confidence in Portsmouth’s plans to end rough sleeping for good. It will go a long way towards dealing with the many complex needs we know rough sleepers have. It backs up our commitment that we will not only give those rough sleepers who want it a roof, but the support they need to lead the lives they want.

Dr Jessica Banks, Public Health Speciality Registrar with Portsmouth City Council, who worked on the bid application, says: “Supporting the most vulnerable in our community has never been more sharply brought into to focus than during the coronavirus pandemic. We have all felt the difficulties of the past year, but imagine if through that you were homeless. The will of everyone to get homeless people somewhere to live at the start of the year, showed us all what can be achieved together, and getting this funding will allow us to build on that momentum and keep more people off the streets and getting help with addictions, to live a safer and healthier life – which is what we all deserve.”