All homeless people should have access to training and jobs within the next three years to help tackle persistent rough sleeping, the government has announced.
Housing minister Iain Wright published an action plan to reduce rough sleeping to as close to zero as possible. The government has earmarked £160m to refurbish hostels and improve their services by 2011.
Many hostels are already operating successful training schemes, ranging from cookery and mechanical repairs, to IT and decorating. But the government wants to see these kind of services more widely available. An academy in London is already being developed.
While huge progress has been made reducing the number of rough sleepers from 1,800 in 1997 to about 500 on any given night, the challenge now is helping persistent rough sleepers make a permanent move away from the streets, especially in London.
Some have been in a ‘revolving door’ of homelessness, entering hostels dozens of times a year but coming back onto the streets only days later.
Wright said: “We need to change all hostels from simply beds for the night into springboards of opportunity places where an individual can learn skills that will help them back into a stable home and a stable working life.”