Felicity Buchan MP, the Minister for Housing and Homelessness in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, visited Watford to see how the town is leading the way when it comes to rough sleeping.
In March 2020 the town launched the Watford Single Homeless Pathway, and in January 2021 reported that it had no rough sleepers.
The Watford Single Homeless Pathway is designed to support all those identified as homeless, not just those sleeping rough. The initiative was launched at the start of the pandemic when the government helped to provide accommodation to all local authorities for every rough sleeper in their area.
The Minister’s first stop was to New Hope’s Haven, which has a dual focus, providing expert advice in helping people access accommodation as well as humanitarian aid, including hot food and showers. The engagement and outreach done from this location is the vital first step in the chain to get people stabilised.
New Hope also runs an Outreach Plus service - funded by The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - carrying out street outreach in Watford to enable people sleeping rough to immediately access accommodation, which is a vital part of the Single Homeless Pathway.
The visit ended at One YMCA, which received £2.2 million in government investment in 2021 to reconfigure the facility and provide an additional 34 self-contained studios for local individuals who were previously homeless or sleeping rough. Across its ten floors, the hostel contains several of the key stages of the DPI scheme.
Minister Felicity Buchan said "I was delighted to visit Watford today with Dean Russell MP to see the excellent work being done to tackle rough sleeping in Watford. Dean has been a passionate advocate for support and funding for rough sleeping in Watford. It was excellent to visit New Hope’s Haven day centre and hear about their Outreach programme. It was also great to visit One YMCA and see how they are transforming Charter House with government funding."
Rob Edmonds of New Hope said “We are grateful for the opportunity to welcome the minister to Watford to see the brilliant work that is taking place within New Hope and the Watford Single Homeless Pathway. Through a person-centred approach New Hope’s staff and volunteers are regularly supporting those who have lost everything – giving them hope and a future. Watford is in a good place to respond to the challenges that many communities are facing. This is because of the recent government funding and the vibrant partnership working in our town. New Hope’s vision is to end rough sleeping in Watford.”
Dean Russell MP said “We are very lucky to have New Hope and One YMCA working hand in hand. I am delighted to have secured more than £5 million of additional funding from central government to help those sleeping rough in Watford. Now we must ensure that rough sleeping is eradicated permanently, which is why I invited the Minister to meet those who are working tirelessly to make this happen.”