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New approach to tackle homelessness

West Berkshire Council has brought together partners from across the district to discuss rough sleeping in the area and to launch a new approach to better coordinate services for people with multiple needs.

Rough sleeping is often the result not of a single issue but because someone faces multiple needs at the same time; such as homelessness, substance misuse, mental health problems and contact with the criminal justice system. The seminar looked in more detail at the experience of people with multiple needs, the support available and why that support is sometimes not accepted and how to become even more effective at tackling the problem in future years.

Delegates at the seminar also heard a first-hand account from someone who has experience of sleeping rough.

As a result of the meeting, the agencies agreed to form a partnership and adopt the MEAM approach in West Berkshire to help design and deliver better coordinated services for people with multiple needs. This is done through seven key principles ranging from the way people at risk of homelessness are identified, to the provision of a flexible and consistent service and the success and sustainability of local solutions. The approach is already being used in 15 other areas across the UK.

Speaking after the event Councillor Hilary Cole, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Housing said: "People who sleep rough have complex needs and to help them often requires a complex solution which agencies can't tackle in isolation. We are far more effective working together so pooling our resources and improving coordination between services means we will make a bigger difference. This event was well attended by local organisations and demonstrates our shared determination to achieve positive outcomes for those people who most need our help."

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