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Funding boost for work with rough sleepers in Chelmsford 

The committed work in Chelmsford to assist rough sleepers into accommodation has been rewarded with additional government funding. Acknowledged as providing life-saving measures, Chelmsford City Council will receive a share of £1.7 million which will allow it to continue its programme for another three years.

Man In Hoodie

The new funding has been awarded in recognition of the strenuous effort and achievements of the council as part of its moves to address homelessness and rough sleeping.  

Since it began to seek government funding in 2018, the city council has created additional places for rough sleepers under the Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme. It has also found additional bed spaces for those who are homeless after leaving prison from the Accommodation For Ex Offenders scheme.  

Funding grant support for outreach team 

The grant of £1.75m from the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) has been allocated to Essex County Council and a partnership of district councils. Chelmsford City Council will receive over £300,000 to fund its team of Rough Sleeper Navigators in addition to funding awarded to CHESS Homeless. This will enable the council to continue to support the charity’s vital work. It will help to provide their outreach service and emergency bed spaces. It also includes helping some people move on into their own privately rented accommodation. 

A life-saving service for rough sleepers

There are many reasons why people end up sleeping rough, but it’s usually a symptom of larger issues such as domestic violence, addiction, substance abuse or mental illness. Often they are not aware that help is available, such as mental health support and accommodation. 

Robert Smith (name changes to protect identity) was living on the streets when he was approached by Jane, one of the council’s housing navigators.

Staff like Jane and Emma (not their real names) provide a crucial, life-saving service for rough sleepers in Chelmsford. They work collaboratively with voluntary organisations such as CHESS to give rough sleepers a chance to rebuild their lives.   

Robert Smith said:   

“I was sitting in my sleeping bag on the high street when Jane first approached me. It’s not common for people to talk to the homeless, so I knew she wanted to help.  

She introduced herself as a worker from the council. We had a chat, and she took my number and said she would fight my corner.  

A month or two down the line, I was on the waiting list for CHESS. I was second or third on the list. She made a call to CHESS and lo and behold I was offered a place. If there is one way I could describe Jane, she came to me like a beautiful knight in shining armour and saved my life.”  

Another homeless person, Suzie M. (name changed to protect identity), also expressed praise for the council’s housing navigators.  

“I met Emma at the breaking point of my life. She was talking to someone else when I approached her and asked for help.  

Emma went above and beyond to help me. She didn’t hesitate and got straight on the phone to all the relevant services. She got me off the streets, into rehab and has been there when I have fallen.  

Without her, I really don’t know where I would be right now. I am now living in CHESS Homeless and on my way to a positive and stable life. It felt like an angel was sent that day to help me.”  

"This is a great endorsement of our work in addressing homelessness. It follows determined bidding by the City Council for government funding to continue its excellent work.

The award will provide much-needed funding to support our wonderful outreach team.

The team have been doing an incredible job and the fact that we can continue this important service for another three years is wonderful news.

The council is committed to preventing homelessness and ending rough sleeping and we have worked tirelessly with our district partners and voluntary organisations to ensure no-one needs to sleep rough in Chelmsford."

Cllr Chris Davidson, Cabinet Member for Fairer Chelmsford, Chelmsford City Council

Essex Housing Awards winner

There was further recognition of this work in the Essex Housing Awards 2022. The team was part of the Mid Essex Rough Sleeper Initiative Outreach Service which was a winner in the Working in Partnership category, gaining a Highly Commended commendation.  

The initiative is a collaboration between local authorities and the charity CHESS Homeless. The award is given in recognition of “an organisation that has been most proactive working in partnership to deliver a service or scheme”. 

How you can help rough sleepers in Chelmsford  

If you are concerned that someone appears to be homeless, please make a referral by using StreetLink.  

When you send an alert through Streetlink or Street Support, an outreach worker will check on the person’s welfare.  

If you are, or might soon be, homeless yourself, please contact Chelmsford City Council as soon as possible.   

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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.