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New partnership team supports rough sleepers

Pair of brown scuffed boots with a hand written cardboard sign beside them

A new service that aims to improve the quality of life for rough sleepers is now operating across Chelmsford and Maldon. 

The Chelmsford and Maldon Changing Futures Rough Sleepers Initiative is a partnership service involving Chelmsford City Council, Maldon District Council, Essex County Council and Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT).

Wraparound care and Mental Health Navigators

Mental Health Navigators are now part of teams delivering interventions that support rough sleepers to improve their health and wellbeing and move towards securing accommodation. The partnership aims to provide wraparound health and social care support to help anyone sleeping rough to get back on their feet. Similar Rough Sleeper Initiatives operate in Braintree, Epping and Southend.

Sean Paulin, Service Manager for EPUT, said: “We are delighted to be part of this partnership initiative that helps a group of people who might not otherwise receive the support they need with their mental and physical health and social needs.

“Our Rough Sleeper Mental Health Navigator, who is part of the team, supports rough sleepers with identified mental health problems, and ensures they receive timely and appropriate support. 

“The Mental Health Navigator will meet the rough sleeper at a mutually agreed space, where they feel comfortable and safe.  They can facilitate access to physical health services, liaise with the Primary Care Network Mental Health teams and even accompany them to appointments if required. 

“By working in partnership with housing colleagues, we’re able to help with a person’s overall needs, which ultimately may lead to stabilisation, a sense of security, hopefulness and recovery.”

Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, says the initiative will bring vital assistance to those in need: “Providing timely mental health support and improving access to services have a key role to play in stopping the cycle of homelessness. Mental health problems are often a contributing factor in causing homelessness. They can make dealing with rough sleeping even more difficult, and in turn, the huge strain homelessness puts on people often causes a big deterioration in mental wellbeing.

“This new provision is a real step forward in creating a more holistic service, working alongside the city’s existing Housing Navigators to improve the lives of those who need it most.”

Councillor Penny Channer, Leader of Maldon District Council, says the collaboration is already making a difference: “I am delighted that we are part of this vital outreach service which reaches and engages with those who have found it difficult to navigate housing, health, and mental health services.

“This partnership has already delivered lasting change by creating a robust system where vulnerable individuals can be identified and assisted quickly.”

Essex Housing Awards recognition

Last November, The Mid Essex Rough Sleeper Initiative Outreach Service received a ‘Working In Partnership’ award at the 2022 Essex Housing Awards, which promote best practice across the county. The award recognises organisations that have been most proactive working in partnership to deliver a service or scheme.

The project was started in 2019 by Chelmsford City Council and Maldon District Council, working in partnership with CHESS, and has since grown to include Essex County Council and a number of other districts.

Connecting rough sleepers with local services

If you are concerned that someone appears to be sleeping rough, please make a referral by using StreetLink. When you send an alert through Streetlink or via 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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Julie Weight
Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at julie.weight@chelmsford.gov.uk or on 01245 606984.