Recommendations for the new government

Three areas the new government must prioritise if they are serious about ending rough sleeping.

Recommendations for the new government

As the election campaign begins, we at Thames Reach want to set out what a new government needs to do if they are serious about ending rough sleeping.  

We think that there are three key elements to any plan: 

Prevention 

We want to ensure that rough sleeping isn’t the only way some people can get help with housing. This means we need to be prepared to intervene early, providing support to people at risk of rough sleeping before they reach crisis point. This includes offering tenancy support to help individuals resolve problems and avoid the devastating impact of rough sleeping. 

It also means people should receive accessible help from local authority prevention services. Too often, these services are under-resourced and have little to offer in preventing or resolving impending homelessness. We want the option of face-to-face help, delivered in convenient locations, and better access to real assistance, including tenancy support and alternative accommodation where necessary. 

Lastly, we want the support available to those new to the streets—access to advice, support, and signposting to services—to be extended to those at immediate risk of sleeping rough. This ensures people can get help without resorting to rough sleeping. 

Accommodation 

Ending rough sleeping requires a diverse range of accommodation options: 

– Emergency assessment centres and high-support hostels: These should be available 24/7, providing immediate relief from the streets, quick assessments, and plans to support individuals in moving away from rough sleeping. 

– Supported accommodation: We need access to high-quality, well-staffed facilities that help individuals transition out of homelessness. 

– Affordable, secure housing: Good quality, affordable housing is crucial for individuals to rebuild their lives and support networks away from homelessness. This should include ‘housing first’ options for those who need them. 

Support 

Support services from organisations like Thames Reach are vital for helping individuals transition from the streets to independence. Many affected by street homelessness lack the support networks that others take for granted, such as assistance with health services, employment, benefits, and managing finances. This means that problems can escalate into crises, and in turn to homelessness.  Tailored support with suitable accommodation is essential if we are to make street homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.