Worries raised over plan for Corby homeless shelter to shift its focus

‘It feels like the caring rug is being torn from under the feet of those who need it most’
The shelter in Dorking Walk. Image: Alison Bagley.The shelter in Dorking Walk. Image: Alison Bagley.
The shelter in Dorking Walk. Image: Alison Bagley.

An £800,000 plan to transform Corby homeless shelter in Dorking Walk into a centre for only those rough sleepers with ‘complex needs’ has prompted councillors to express concerns.

North Northamptonshire Council announced at its executive meeting on Thursday (March 16) that it had secured a government Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) grant over three years to transform its homelessness provision.

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But it means that the nine-bed supported housing complex in Dorking Walk – currently funded by the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) – will stop offering help to all rough sleepers and will only cater for those with more complex needs.

The new provision will take a multi-agency approach to help those with serious mental health issues and drug addictions. Residents will stay for a period of between 18 months and two years. There is no existing such provision in North Northamptonshire.

The SHAP grant is in addition to the £100,000 RSI grant, which will continue, but it is not known where homeless people with lower needs will now be housed in Corby.

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North Northamptonshire Labour Group said they were ‘saddened and concerned’ by the loss of Corby Homeless Project.

A statement from them said: “It will become a facility for homeless people with complex needs only, meaning many rough sleepers will no longer be able to attend to get the help and support they need.

“The project had previously played its part in helping numerous rough sleepers throughout the Corby community to move on to more settled lives since it began in January 2020.”

Cllr Lyn Buckingham (Lab, Lloyds) said: “It feels like the caring rug is being torn from under the feet of those who need it most. The project acted as an important stepping stone for rough sleepers – where do they go in the future to get back into the community?

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“Who will show them life skills and how to maintain a tenancy? Who will pick them up off the floor and show them we care? This is a huge worry.”

Cllr Alison Dalziel (Lab, Corby West), shadow spokesperson for housing and communities, said: “This organisation provides such a valuable service for Corby and sadly it would appear that the goal posts have been moved, so that organisations like Corby Homeless Project are now ineligible to apply for funding except for providing shelter for individuals with complex needs.

"I would urge NNC to look to see if Corby Homeless Project can apply for other sources of NNC funding, to enable them to continue their important work across the board.”

At Thursday’s executive meeting, members unanimously voted to accept the grant, with executive member Cllr Mark Rowley (Con, Ise) saying: “This is additional funding so everything that’s going on will still go on.

"The RSI grants will carry on as normal.

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"This money will be used to help officers with the complex needs of rough sleepers and homeless to get to a point that they need (to).”

He added that the contract for the provision will be tendered out. The service is currently run by East Northants-based Encompass.