Homeless prevention team named as "Rose of Northamptonshire" after providing emergency accommodation for town's rough sleepers
The team has helped more than one hundred homeless people as part of the government's Everyone In scheme
The Single Homelessness Team, which is ran by Northampton Borough Council (NBC), has been named as a "Rose of Northamptonshire" for its efforts in providing emergency accommodation for the town's rough sleepers during the Covid crisis.
The team began their efforts to help the homeless in March last year when the pandemic first hit and the country was plunged into its first lockdown.
During the eight-and-a-half months that Northampton’s first Everyone In initiative was running, 135 of the homeless people accommodated in the emergency accommodation were helped to move on into suitable, settled housing.
The Everyone In initiative aims to "protect rough sleepers from COVID–19 and, wherever possible, prevent them from returning to the street", according to NBC.
A spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the team said: "Everyone in the team is really proud to have won this award. Although it is very humbling, it is an honour for our work to be recognised in this way. We love the work we do and the difference we make to people’s lives."
The efforts of the team have been described as "extraordinary and heart-warming" by those that nominated the group for the award. In response to this, the spokeswoman said: "In terms of speed and scale, the Everyone In initiative was quite extraordinary. It is no surprise, therefore, that our response to it needed to be extraordinary.
"Moving such a large number of people into emergency accommodation at very short notice and then providing them with round-the-clock support for eight-and-a-half months is not something we had ever planned for, but we just took it in our stride and worked with other services and organisations to do whatever was needed.
"Everyone in the team considers it to have been a real privilege to get to know the rough sleepers and to witness the courage with which so many of them have seized the opportunity to rebuild and transform their lives. It has been truly inspiring."
The team said that there was a "real urgency" at the start of the pandemic to find the rough sleepers and get them into emergency accommodation.
The spokeswoman said: "Although there was a real urgency to move everybody out of Northampton’s dormitory-style nightshelter and off the streets, our street outreach workers knew the whereabouts of most of the people who were sleeping rough.
"We worked with the Hope Centre and local services to agree on who needed to be brought inside and which of the two hotels - town centre or out of town - they were most suited to. The whole exercise was well organised and ran very smoothly."
The team described how the rough sleepers reacted to receiving such vital support - and there have been many positive testimonials and some success stories.
The spokeswoman said: "From the outset – and throughout the Everyone In initiative – the vast majority of rough sleepers have reacted very positively to the offer of housing and support.
"It was wonderful to witness the rapid improvement in people’s well-being and self-esteem within days and weeks of them moving into the hotels, getting regular undisturbed sleep and having access to showers, three meals a day, laundry facilities, drug and alcohol treatment and the on-site Single Homelessness Team.
"There are many [success stories]. One of them is George, who had been sleeping rough in Northampton for 15 years and walked into the Travelodge a couple of days after the hotels opened in March 2020. He was rehoused in a council flat in June."
There has also been "huge progress" in getting a large number of Eastern European rough sleepers off the streets, too.
The spokeswoman said: "Huge progress has been made in relation to the large number of Eastern Europeans who had been sleeping in tent encampments and makeshift shelters on the outskirts of Northampton. Those encampments have now gone and dozens of Eastern Europeans have been helped to address the cause of their homelessness and move into settled housing."
During Northampton’s first Everyone In, 135 of the 170 people accommodated in emergency accommodation were helped to move on into settled housing. Another 73 people were helped to move into settled housing before they became homeless.
A total of 170 people stayed at least one night in emergency accommodation during Northampton’s first Everyone In initiative between March 27 and December 14.
The second Everyone In scheme has been operating since January 19 of this year.
The Travelodge Hotel in Gold Street and the Holiday Inn Express in Grange Park were used as the emergency accommodations for the first three months and then transferred to one of the University of Northampton’s halls of residence in Northampton town centre on July 1.
Most of the cost of the Everyone In initiative was funded through grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.