Charity changing its services to help tackle homelessness in Wellingborough

Emily Tyler (lead advice session supervisor), Dianne Perrin (volunteer) and Paul Curran (Bridge Project worker)
Emily Tyler (lead advice session supervisor), Dianne Perrin (volunteer) and Paul Curran (Bridge Project worker)
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A charity is changing its services for homeless people in a move designed to offer a more flexible response to the town’s growing problem with homelessness.

Citizens Advice in Wellingborough offers tailored support for clients with a range of housing problems, including the support of two directly employed solicitors who offer legal support for anyone in dispute with a landlord or the local authority.

And the charity is extending its Bridge Project, which offers individual support to clients who need help maintaining or obtaining tenancies, to offer further support to those who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

It does this by brokering relationships with private landlords in the area.

Services will now be offered five days a week during the office’s regular opening times, with extra training and support being offered to the charity’s volunteer workforce.

Paul Curran, the principle project worker on the initiative, said: “Many people assume that if they lose their accommodation the council will have an automatic duty to re-house, whatever the reason.

“However this is not the case; a duty to re-house is limited to ‘priority households’ and this means that for many people, some who lose accommodation for no fault of their own, there is no duty to re-house.

“Even when someone has lost their accommodation because of rent arrears, we recognise that in many cases, the pressures of a complex benefit system and spiraling personal debt, often makes it really hard for people and we can well understand why, in this context, evictions seem to be on the increase.

“It is in this environment we think there is a real need for a service like ours and a good reason to change how we provide it.”

To support its activities, Citizens Advice would like to hear from any private landlords who may be interested in offering tenancies to single, homeless people.

And Mr Curran added: “We know that this type of tenant is sometimes not the most attractive to a private landlord, especially if they have had a chequered past, but we will offer potential tenants the support they need to ensure they make a success of their tenancy.”

The initiative, funded by Wellingborough Council, forms part of a wider response to homelessness and with a new law being introduced shortly, Citizens Advice sees a continuing need for the service’s existence.

Mr Curran said: “It’s not something that all local Citizens Advice do, but we are really pleased to be offering the service and want to make it as effective as possible.”

To find out more about the project call Citizens Advice in High Street, Wellingborough, on 01933 271343.