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Pioneering Pilot Scheme celebrates securing housing for over 100 rough sleepers in Walsall

Eddie Hughes Housing First Web

Over the past 4 years GreenSquareAccord has been a key partner in the Housing First scheme in Walsall. Along with whg and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, GreenSquareAccord has participated in this pioneering pilot scheme which aims to take rough sleepers off the street and into housing. Across the West Midlands area over 500 former rough sleepers have been supported into accommodation, with 102 in the Walsall area alone.

Backed by £9.6m government funding the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) pilot gives people who have experienced rough sleeping a home with intensive support for problems such as mental, psychological, or emotional ill health, drug or alcohol dependency, or experience of domestic violence and abuse. The GreenSquareAccord specialist support team in Walsall has played a key part in the success of the programme.

At the recent event Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, and Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping, took the opportunity to meet with some of the Housing First clients who have been supported through the scheme, as well as hear from support workers and staff who have worked on the pilot scheme.

Ryan, aged 26 who is originally from Wolverhampton, found himself sleeping rough in Walsall Arboretum for six months before he joined the Housing First scheme. Before that he’d spent four years on the streets.

He said: “They are there for you when you need them. You see support you’d get from your parents when you need it. It’s not constantly all the time, they give you some space as well.

“I’ve been part of the scheme for just over two years. I was on the streets before. I asked out for some help and got that help from Housing First and they are one of the best going.

“I got in touch and got settled. I’m looking to get back into work. I passed my CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) test last year. I’ve got certificates and training for painting and decorating.

“I can see a much brighter future from two years ago. This programme helps people who are going down a dark path but want to sort it out. It gives you a sense of purpose back.”

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes MP, said:

“Walsall has shown that the Housing First model works for people who have been stuck in a cycle of rough sleeping for years.

“The tenants we met today have shown the importance of having a safe place to call their own as they help to address the trauma, addiction, and mental health issues they may face and to begin to turn their lives around.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added:

“Where Housing First has proved such a breakthrough initiative is in the way in which it not only provides a home for people to call their own, but also the wrap-around support that allows some of society’s most vulnerable people to tackle their demons and move forward in life.

“We know the country’s finances are challenged and difficult decisions have to be taken, but I am hopeful that the pilot’s success in the West Midlands will lead to the Government extending our Housing First scheme and ultimately allow us to help more vulnerable people across the region into a home of their own.”

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council said:

“We’re proud of what has been achieved in Walsall to date in partnership with GreenSquareAccord and Walsall Housing Group. The Housing First model doesn’t just change lives for the better — it’s my firm view that it has saved lives too. Our strong partnership is key to this success story.”