A SOCIAL organisation has outlined plans to reduce homelessness in Chester and Cheshire West after being appointed a £22m contract to deliver all homeless support services for the next nine years.

The council’s cabinet agreed to approve proposals from ForViva to provide one integrated homelessness and support service to the most vulnerable people in the area.

New services include a rough sleeper hotline, a respite and medical facility, and support and information hubs across the region.

The announcement comes after a consultation by the council over 18 months with residents, businesses, people who have experienced homelessness, service providers and the voluntary and community sectors.

In July, ForViva was awarded a
10-year contract to manage 5,500 council-owned homes in Ellesmere Port and Neston, under the brand ForHousing.

Due to launch in April, 2018, ForViva’s homeless and support service aims to improve access to both temporary and permanent accommodation, provide more emergency beds for people who find themselves sleeping rough and support people to help prevent them becoming homeless.

Preventing homelessness will be central to the new service with hubs across Cheshire West offering advice, information and training to help support people.

An outreach service, a rough sleeper hotline, a new web portal for service users and a respite and medical facility for those people who need clinical support will also be provided.

Mediation services will support young people to find a way of remaining with their families instead of ending up homeless.

As well as direct support to access housing, the service will have a focus on empowering people to address factors that led to them becoming homeless and building their resilience to face future challenges. There will be a strong emphasis on improving health and wellbeing and supporting people into employment.

Colette McKune, deputy chief executive at ForViva, said: “We are committed to supporting vulnerable people to have a safe and secure home and to gain the skills to build a brighter future for themselves. Our goal is to improve people’s lives and to work in partnership with the council.”

ForViva, which owns and manages more than 24,000 homes across the North West, has already helped hundreds of people at risk of homelessness sustain their tenancies and transform their circumstances through its tenancy support services.

The council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Angela Claydon said: “We are committed to reducing homelessness and tackling its root causes. This new partnership aims to do both. ForViva has been appointed following a robust selection process and consultation. The new contract will join up four existing contracts into one cohesive service.

“As we face new challenges with the roll-out of Universal Credit and the forthcoming Homelessness Reduction Act in April next year, this innovative new service will help us to manage these.”

As a consequence of the new deal, Richmond Court homeless hostel in Boughton will close in April.